We wondered yesterday about the odds of the full raft of Obama nominees making it through the Senate at the end of the lame duck session. Last night we got what was probably the best indicator that Harry Reid has broken out of the secondary and is bolting for the end zone. 37 year old anti-gun enthusiast Dr. Vivek Murthy was confirmed at the nation’s next Surgeon General.
The nomination was strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association because of Murthy’s support of gun-control laws and by Republicans who doubted that a 37-year-old physician was qualified for the public health position.
Senate Democrats are still juggling about two dozen executive branch nominations in the closing days of the 113th Congress but scheduled Murthy’s vote first, marking it as one of the most controversial and most important.
This week will be seen as the last period when Harry Reid gets to cash in on the nuclear option, and it paid off in spades for him here. The vote went down 51-43 and the only Republican to vote for Murthy was Mark Kirk. Three of the last remaining red / purple state Democrats, Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly and Joe Manchin, voted against the confirmation to keep their Second Amendment bona fides shined up. (Manchin, it should be noted, is up for election again in 2016.)
If Murthy sailed through there is little doubt that the rest of the roughly two dozen Obama nominees waiting in the wings will do the same. And in a demonstration of real class, the Democrats were out there on social media “thanking” Ted Cruz for making it all possible.
Ironic. It took Ted Cruz to pave the way for the confirmation of Dr. Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General, finally breaking the NRA blockade.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) December 16, 2014
There's a first time for everything, but public health advocates can thank Ted Cruz tonight for his help in getting Vivek Murthy confirmed
— Dan Pfeiffer (@pfeiffer44) December 15, 2014
Our friend (and Cruz staffer) Amanda Carpenter offered the counterpoint.
The fact that Harry Reid called up Murthy right away on Monday proves this vote was going to happen with or without Cruz's amnesty vote
— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) December 16, 2014
Look for more of these to roll out today and tomorrow. At this point it feels as if the entire Senate (minus Cruz and Lee) are simply exhausted and looking for a way to get out the door and back home with as little blood on their hands as possible. Reid and company will need to enjoy these 11th hour Christmas gifts as a last hurrah, because their stockings are going to be mostly filled with coal over the next two years.