Sen. Rand Paul places hold on Obama’s surgeon general nominee

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has placed a hold on President Obama’s pick for surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, because of the nominee’s political advocacy work. But new filibuster rules will allow the Senate to take a confirmation vote regardless.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Paul said he has “serious concerns about Dr. Murthy’s ability to impartially serve as ‘the Nation’s Doctor’” because the nominee founded a group that supported Obama’s first presidential run and later the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare.

Paul also said he is concerned about Murthy’s advocacy for stricter gun-control measures.

MORE: Republicans question surgeon general nominee over advocacy for health-care law

Senate rules allow a unanimous voice vote to move the confirmation process to a final vote by the full Senate. But Paul has said he will object to taking the final vote, meaning a cloture vote will be necessary before moving to that stage.

Under previous Senate rules, 60 votes were needed to invoke cloture and advance to a final vote on nominees. But the Senate approved new rules in November to allow a simple majority to move the process forward with most nominees except those for the Supreme Court.

As such, Paul’s hold only forces an additional step — a cloture vote — before the full Senate votes on whether to confirm Murthy.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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Josh Hicks · February 26