Conservative Rep. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has issued his support for surgeon general nominee, Dr. David Satcher. Coburn, also a medical doctor, sent a letter to Senator Ashcroft, R-MO, one of the strongest adversaries of Satcher’s appointment.
Ashcroft protests the nomination because of Satcher’s opposition to a proposed ban on late-term abortions, and Satcher’s support of international research studies on pregnant women with the AIDS virus. Rep. Coburn wrote, “While I can appreciate many of your concerns about his nomination, I believe it is imperative that the post of surgeon general be filled as soon as possible and that Dr. Satcher is by far the best candidate to be nominated by President Clinton.” Coburn added, “He is extremely qualified … and I firmly believe him to be a man of character and integrity.”
Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA, said that she respects the rights of Senate members to object to appointments, but “we do not believe that they have the right to prevent a man of extraordinary integrity and impeccable qualifications … from serving his country.”
The surgeon general’s post has been vacant since 1994, when Dr. Joycelyn Elders resigned after a controversy over her remarks supporting sex education. The Senate denied approval to Dr. Henry Foster, who was nominated by President Clinton in 1995. The Senate is expected to vote on Satcher’s nomination later this week.