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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Thank you, Mike and Ted!

Thank you, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), for standing up to the NRA and paving the way for Dr. Vivek Murthy to be our next Surgeon General!!!

What?!!?? That was not your intent when you forced the Senate to remain in session on Saturday? Regardless, Dr. Vivek Murthy will finally get a vote:

[Dr.] Murthy is an impressive medical professional with sterling credentials. He’s an attending physician, an instructor, and a public-health advocate, so when Obama nominated him for the post, no one questioned his qualifications. But Murthy, like so many in his field, also sees a connection between gun violence and public health, which meant Republicans and the NRA decided to destroy his nomination.

Dr. Murthy was nominated by the president on Nov. 14, 2013

Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy, Nominee for Surgeon General, Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy is the Co-Founder and President of Doctors for America, a position he has held since 2009.  Dr. Murthy is also a Hospitalist Attending Physician and Instructor in Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School, a position he has held since 2006.  In 2011, Dr. Murthy was appointed to serve as a Member of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health.  Dr. Murthy has been the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of TrialNetworks, formerly known as Epernicus, since 2007.  Dr. Murthy co-founded VISIONS Worldwide in 1995, a non-profit organization focused on HIV/AIDS education in India and the United States, where he served as President from 1995 to 2000 and Chairman of the Board from 2000 to 2003.  Dr. Murthy received a B.A. from Harvard University, an M.B.A. from Yale School of Management, and an M.D. from Yale School of Medicine.

Dr. Murthy’s nomination was approved by Senate committee but put on hold in February by red state Democrats frightened by the NRA. Yes, the same NRA that spent millions to support those red state Democrats’ opponents in November 2014 (how’d that work for you, soon-to-be-former Senator Mark Pryor?).

But Saturday afternoon, thanks to the “intervention” of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Dr. Murthy cleared the first procedural hurdles to his  confirmation by a vote of 52-40. On Monday, Senators will vote on cloture, and because of the 50+1 rule, confirmation.

Vox explains:

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) took to the Senate floor late Friday night to call for an immediate vote to stop President Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration. Under the deal that Reid and McConnell worked out, Republicans would bring up a “constitutional point of order” on Monday that would register the Senate’s belief that the President’s executive actions are unconstitutional. But Lee and Cruz wanted a vote on the point of order immediately.

Reid refused to give them the vote. As a result, they refused to consent to the procedural plan Reid and McConnell had worked out. No unanimous consent meant that the waiting period applied again, and the Senate had to stay in session through the weekend to allow the votes to happen as scheduled.

Why was this important to Dr. Murthy’s confirmation?

When the Senate stayed in session on Saturday, Reid had a chance to go into executive session – which is what the Senate does to confirm nominees – and file for cloture on  24 nominations. That will give those nominations time to ripen sooner.

If the Senate had been out of session over the weekend, and then come back Monday to pass the CRomnibus, Reid would have had to schedule votes on nominees for later next week. According to Politico, Republicans were betting that lame-duck Democrats wouldn’t want to stick around for all those votes. So they thought that they might be able to take control of the Senate before those nominations got approved.

But now, Reid can schedule votes that will have the time to ripen by the beginning of the week. At this rate, they’ll be able to start voting for cloture on the nominees on Monday.

In the meantime, the Senate voted 56 to 40 for the fiscal year 2015 spending bill and we got this bonus:

Under a deal struck late Saturday night, Cruz ultimately won a vote on a “constitutional point of order” to determine whether or not Obama’s executive actions on immigration are outside the boundaries of the president’s authority. But that measure failed 74-22, with many Republicans using their vote to express disapproval of the way Cruz pushed for the vote.

In a statement prior to the vote, Cruz said it would “allow Republicans to also show they are committed to ending Obama’s amnesty once and for all in the next Congress.” And he said that the measure will force Democrats to side with the president on an unpopular policy.

Yes, that “unpopular policy” supported by 70% of Americans. This executive action:

If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes – you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law. That’s what this deal is.

For this group in particular:

The executive order will affect around 4.9 million undocumented immigrants, including the some 4.1 million immigrants whose children already have legal status. Obama will also expand a program for undocumented immigrants who came here as children. If each of these individuals apply and are accepted into the executive action program, they will be temporarily sheltered from deportation and become eligible to work.

These 4.1 million parents will finally have some security that they will not be separated from their children and sent back to a country that many have not lived in for decades.

Thank you again, Republican Senate bombthrowers, for making it very easy for the children of those 4.1 million people to see exactly what the Republican Party stands for. And HAHAHAHAHA at the Cruz-Lee coalition for turning a symbolic vote intended to show displeasure at the president into a symbolic vote showing nearly unanimous displeasure at their tactics. The only solace those of us who mourn the loss of our Senate majority is that Mitch McConnell’s and John Cornyn’s plan to “enhance the Republican Party’s brand” will have to get around the outsized ego of Ted Cruz.

“Sen. McConnell and I are making the best decisions we can to demonstrate that we are a responsible alternative to what we had the last four years,” said incoming Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a fellow Texas Republican, when asked about Cruz’s tactics. “So no single member is going to determine that direction. It’s going to be what’s best for the conference – and what’s best for our brand.”

Grab popcorn.


  1. Just where does what’s best for the American people show up in your priorities?

    May a thousand fleas Cruz-Lees take residence in your shorts …

  2. President Obama

    Obama acknowledged that the measure has “a bunch of provisions in this bill that I really do not like,” and said the bill flows from “the divided government that the American people voted for.”

    “… had I been able to draft my own legislation, get it passed without any Republican votes, I suspect it would be slightly different. That is not the circumstance we find ourselves in, and I think what the American people very much are looking for is responsible governance and the willingness to compromise.”


    Press Secretary Josh Earnest

    “Earnest said the bill should be considered a win for Democrats because it didn’t touch the health care law and Republicans were unable to block Obama’s immigration order, among other things.


    Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

    Republicans got a bunch of venal little favors inserted, but what did Democrats get? Here’s retiring Rep. Jim Moran:

       In 20 years of being on the appropriations bill, I haven’t seen a better compromise in terms of Democratic priorities. Implementing the Affordable Care Act, there’s a lot more money for early-childhood development – the only priority that got cut was the EPA but we gave them more money than the administration asked for….There were 26 riders that were extreme and would have devastated the Environmental Protection Agency in terms of the Clean Water and Clean Air Act administration; all of those were dropped. There were only two that were kept and they wouldn’t have been implemented this fiscal year. So, we got virtually everything that the Democrats tried to get.

    Democrats did get a bunch of stuff they wanted. And of course, that’s in addition to getting the government funded before Republicans take over Congress in January, which is worthwhile all by itself. We can each decide for ourselves whether Democrats got enough, or if they should have held out for a better deal, but they weren’t left empty-handed

  3. Shaun Appleby

    I’m predicting that the next two years will see numerous cases of apparently perplexing cross-party behaviours.

  4. The NRA is making a last minute push

    The National Rifle Association revived its attacks on Vivek Murthy, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be U.S. surgeon general, ahead of an expected Senate confirmation vote on Monday.

    “The NRA’s position hasn’t changed. America’s next surgeon general should not be a political operative whose professional inexperience has been a source of bipartisan concern,” Andrew Arulanandan, a top NRA spokesman, told TPM.

    They have not announced exactly what they will be doing but I suspect that it will involve threats. Since they already declared that a Democrats’ NRA rating is irrelevant (Pryor had a 100%) and that they will only support Republican candidates, I am not sure what kind of leverage they think they have. They would have been smarter to tie the money and support to the votes, not the party.

    The vote is planned for this afternoon.

  5. Statement by the President on the Confirmation of Vivek Murthy as the Surgeon General

    I applaud the Senate for confirming Vivek Murthy to be our country’s next Surgeon General.  As ‘America’s Doctor,’ Vivek will hit the ground running to make sure every American has the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe.  He’ll bring his lifetime of experience promoting public health to bear on priorities ranging from stopping new diseases to helping our kids grow up healthy and strong.  Vivek will also help us build on the progress we’ve made combatting Ebola, both in our country and at its source.  Combined with the crucial support for fighting Ebola included in the bill to fund our government next year, Vivek’s confirmation makes us better positioned to save lives around the world and protect the American people here at home.

    And to demonstrate just how gracious he is, there was no “Thank you, Mike and Ted!”. He leaves that for snarky bloggers. 🙂

  6. tuhaybey

    The number of gun deaths per capita vary so radically from one state to the next that it seems ridiculous not to start basing out gun policy decisions based on which approaches are working.  I mean, really, does whatever freedom a gun owner in Wyoming has that a gun owner in Iowa doesn’t have amount to anything anybody actually cares about?  If not, is it really worth sacrificing more than twice as many lives over?  Seems silly to me.

  7. David Gergen: Surgeon general’s win is a political miracle

    The root of the NRA’s opposition to Murthy, and the subsequent political maneuvering to stall his nomination, stems from an October 2012 tweet in which he wrote, “Guns are a health care issue.” He was right — guns are a public health issue.

    We once thought cigarettes were outside the purview of anything but the Food and Drug Administration but soon realized that they were a huge health issue. Guns are too, particularly when over 7,000 young people under age 20 are admitted to U.S. hospitals every year because of firearm injuries — about 20 a day.

    It is entirely reasonable for the NRA to stand up for its beliefs in people’s rights under the Second Amendment — this country should always welcome robust debate about rights. But the gun lobby should not hold a veto power over what is best to protect the public health of our citizens.

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