Republicans Are Blocking Confirmation For Obama's Surgeon General Nominee

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We have a national health emergency, and Senate Republicans are stalling the surgeon general's confirmation. But then, they don't live in the same country as the rest of us:

A GOP stall on all Health and Human Services nominees has left the department without a surgeon general during a period of a global flu pandemic, prompting the HHS secretary to call for Senate action.

Regina Benjamin, the surgeon general nominee, “is ready to be voted on in the Senate, and we would just strongly urge the United States Senate” to act, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during an MSNBC interview Friday in which she discused the department's response to the spread of the H1N1 virus.

President Barack Obama on Saturday declared the H1N1 outbreak a national emergency.

“We are facing a major pandemic, we have a well-qualified candidate for surgeon general, she’s been through the committee process. We just need a vote in the Senate,” Sebeilus said. “Please give us a surgeon general.”

Benjamin was unanimously approved by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Oct. 7, but Senate Republicans are holding up all HHS nominees over a so-called gag order on insurance companies that have been critical of Democratic efforts to reform health care.

“We’ve not received any recent calls from the administration about their nominee,” a senior Republican aide said. “There won’t be any time agreements for confirmation of HHS nominees until their actions have been fully reviewed.”

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