Opposition Building to Bush Surgeon General Nominee
James Holsinger, a Kentucky cardiologist who President Bush last month nominated as the next surgeon general, might "be headed for a nomination fight," after lawmakers and gay and lesbian advocacy groups raised concern about his position on gay-rights issues, CQ Today reports (Armstrong, CQ Today, 6/8). Some gay-rights groups cite as the basis for their opposition Holsinger's 1991 writing in a report for a United Methodist committee that gay sex is unnatural and potentially leads to serious health issues (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 6/9).
Holsinger's "friends within the United Methodist Church and the medical community, however, are defending him as a professional who does not discriminate against people in his congregation or in his care," according to the New York Times.
Holsinger has served as secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and as chancellor of the University of Kentucky Medical Center. Holsinger also had a 26-year career with the Department of Veterans Affairs, where he served as undersecretary for health in 1992.
In addition, Holsinger served for more than 30 years in the Army Reserve, until he retired as a major general in 1993. The term of the previous surgeon general, Richard Carmona, expired last summer (California Healthline, 5/25).
The Holsinger nomination has "raised questions in the Senate," the New York Times reports.
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, in a statement said that he was "disappointed" the Bush administration had selected a nominee for surgeon general "whose record appears to guarantee a polarizing and divisive nomination process."
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), a committee member and a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, in a statement that he had "serious reservations" about the Holsinger nomination.
The Human Rights Campaign states that, based on his record, Holsinger is "unworthy" of the surgeon general position (Banerjee, New York Times, 6/9).
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), both candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, also announced their opposition to the Holsinger nomination (Los Angeles Times, 6/9).
The Senate HELP Committee plans to hold a confirmation hearing on the Holsinger nomination in the next few weeks (CQ Today, 6/11).