Vivek Murthy shot down by the NRA

A not quite predictable story. The NRA came in with guns blazing and the Democrats blinked.  

How did this happen with a 50 threshold (and a 55 member count in the Senate)? Dave Weigel explains:

This tweet still haunts Murthy. As of last week, his nomination hangs in
jeopardy because Senate Democrats—who can afford to lose every Republican vote
and four of their own—aren’t confident they can confirm him. Months after reforming
the filibuster, after lowering the vote threshold from 60 to 51, Democrats
are facing their second defeat of a nominee in less than a month. 

The
most-stated reason is that in his tweets and in his work at DFA, Murthy
couldn’t help himself from criticizing guns as a “health care issue.” 

In a
post–Sandy Hook letter, DFA even supported an assault weapons ban.

Every other Democrat, in Congress and in the White House, is baffled. They
went into the confirmation vote for Justice Department nominee Debo Adegbile expecting
to lose a few of their own—Adegbile had joined a defense team for Mumia
Abu-Jamal and criticized the role of race in the justice system—but
not to lose. Joe Biden didn’t show up for the vote to lose. He expected to
cast a tie-breaking aye.  

They didn’t expect the NRA to oppose a nominee for
surgeon general because, as one White house source put it, when has that
ever happened
?

 Vivek Murthy earned the ire of the NRA,
and the NRA scared off the necessary rump of Democrats.

 

Feb. 4: Murthy appears before the Senate Committee on
Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander
calls him out on this. “Much of your credential, it seems to me, is a political credential,” says
Alexander. Murthy had advocated for the Affordable Care Act,
when there was “at
least a large majority of Americans and a large number of the Congress who
disagree with that law.” He’d tweeted critically of the NRA, when “Americans
have a First Amendment right to advocate for the Second Amendment or any
amendment.”

Murthy backs down immediately, saying his priority in office would be
fighting obesity, not gun ownership. “My concerns with regard to issues like
gun violence have to do with my experience as a physician,” he says, “seeing
patients in emergency rooms.”
The issue seems to peter out. Wyoming Sen. Mike
Enzi says he’s “glad” Murthy walked back the gun talk, and adds that “in the
West, violence is mostly caused by people taking away guns.”


Feb. 26:
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul sends Majority Leader Harry Reid a letter announcing
his intention to put a hold on the Murthy nomination. “In his efforts to
curtail Second Amendment rights, Dr. Murthy has continually referred to guns as
a public health issue on par with heart disease and has diminished the role of
mental health in gun violence,” writes Paul.
“As a physician, I am deeply
concerned that he has advocated that doctors use their position of trust to ask
patients, including minors, details about gun ownership in the home.”



On the same day, the NRA sends
a letter
to Reid and Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell officially opposing the
nomination.


March 11-12: At the start of the Senate’s last week before
a short recess, Fox News starts covering the Murthy nomination. “Do you want a partisan
physician?” asks Elisabeth Hasselbeck, rhetorically. Megyn Kelly’s
prime-time show books Chris Cox, the NRA executive who wrote the no-Murthy
letter, where he claims the nominee “is hell-bent on treating a constitutional
freedom like a disease.”


March 14: Toomey, the co-author of the 2013 gun control
amendment that the NRA opposed, comes
out against the Murthy nomination. “Dr. Murthy, as the president of a
partisan political organization, has been an active promoter of Obamacare,” he
explains. “Dr. Murthy also has advocated for policies that would erode our
important Second Amendment rights.” Later that day, the New York Times
runs ahead of the curve and reports that the Senate is
“balking” at a vote on Murthy, with “as many as 10 Democrats” refusing to vote
aye.

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