The Senate voted Monday to confirm 37-year-old Vivek Murthy as surgeon general, ending a yearlong delay on his nomination spurred by conservative opposition, NBC News reported.
The 51-43 vote was pushed through by Democrats. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) was the only Republican senator to vote in favor of Murthy’s confirmation.
“Vivek will hit the ground running to make sure every American has the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “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.”
Murthy’s nomination had been blocked by Senate Republicans out of criticism over his support of a ban on military-style assault rifles. Tea Party Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said of Muthy this past May, “instead of nominating a health professional, [Obama] nominated someone who is an anti-gun activist.”
MSNBC reported that the National Rifle Association (NRA) also contacted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) opposing Murthy’s nomination.
Chris Cox, who heads the NRA’s lobbying arm, said in a letter that Murthy’s “support of radical gun control measures raises significant concerns about his ability to objectively examine issues pertinent to America’s 100 million firearm owners and the likelihood he would use the office of Surgeon General to further his preexisting campaign against gun ownership.”
Murthy had criticized the NRA’s response to the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, calling a press conference by the organization “disappointing but predictable – blame everything in the world except guns for the Newtown tragedy.”
The Washington Post reported that 23 presidential nominees are expected to be confirmed this week, as Republicans prepare to assume control of the Senate at the start of 2015.