Senate confirms Vivek Murthy as surgeon general

The Senate has confirmed Vivek Murthy, M.D., President Barack Obama's nominee for U.S. surgeon general.

Murthy was confirmed 51-43 after a long delay on a vote due to opposition from the National Rifle Association, which announced its opposition to Murthy's confirmation due to his past advocacy for gun control measures, CNN reports.

Obama tapped Murthy in late 2013 to replace Regina Benjamin, M.D., who left the position that July, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Murthy is the founder of Doctors for America, which advocated for passage of the Affordable Care Act.

"I applaud the Senate for confirming Vivek Murthy to be our country's next Surgeon General," Obama said in a statement. "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."

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who will become Senate Majority Leader in January, denounced the appointment as partisan, according to the article. "With America facing the challenge of Ebola and other serious health challenges, it's unfortunate that the President chose a nominee based on the candidate's political support instead of a long career delivering patient care and managing difficult health crises," he said, according to CNN.

Murthy secured the needed votes due in part to Democratic senators who lost their seats in the November midterm elections, including Mark Begich of Alaska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, all NRA allies, according to the New York Times. Three Democrats voted against Murthy's confirmation--Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.) was the only Republican to vote to confirm Murthy.

To learn more:
- read the CNN article
- here's the statement
- check out the Times article