Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., said Monday he would vote against the confirmation of Vivek Murthy to be surgeon general, citing concerns over political positions the nominee has taken.
“Our Surgeon General serves as America’s leader on public health services and chooses what health policies we should prioritize,” Manchin said in a release. “For that reason, I don’t believe it’s appropriate for America’s number one doctor to participate in political activism.”
Murthy’s nomination has been clouded by his support for gun control policies, which spurred the National Rifle Association to voice vehement opposition to his confirmation. The nominee is president and co-founder of Doctors for America, a group of physicians and medical students pushing for increased access to affordable health care.
According to the NRA, Murthy signed a recent letter sent to Congress by Doctors for America that called for mandatory licensing for anyone purchasing guns and ammunition — including mandatory firearm safety training and testing. He also supports further regulations that would place limits on the purchase of ammunition, and establish a mandatory waiting period of at least 48 hours, the NRA said.
The NRA cited tweets from Murthy’s personal Twitter account to publicize his gun control beliefs, including one from Oct. 16, 2012, that said, "Guns are a health care issue."
Republicans have also questioned Murthy's qualifications for the job. He's 39 and completed his medical residency eight years ago.
But Manchin dismissed that criticism and instead focused on whether Murthy can gain the trust of the American people.
“After meeting with Dr. Murthy, I don’t question his medical qualifications; I just question whether the public will believe that he can separate his political beliefs from his public health views,” Manchin said. “I am wary that his past comments and political involvement will have an impact on his leadership capabilities and effectiveness. For these reasons, I am unable to vote for his confirmation as the United States’ next Surgeon General.”
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