The surgeon general's office probably will remain vacant until next year, but Dr. David Satcher eventually will assume the post, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said yesterday
"I assume his nomination will be confirmed, but after the first of the year," the Mississippi Republican said.
Dr. Satcher faces some opposition, but the issue now is one of time.
The problem is fitting the nomination into the Senate's ever-dwindling calendar, Mr. Lott said. Several Republican senators have asked for time for debate, but time, even a few hours, is a precious commodity for senators longing for home.
Some Republicans object to Dr. Satcher's nomination because the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta opposes a ban of partial-birth abortions. Other Republicans say they are concerned by the Clinton nominee's stance, but are satisfied with his promise not to use the surgeon general's office as a soapbox for abortion rights.
"It is shocking that the nominee for surgeon general . . . would associate himself with partial-birth abortion," Sen. John Ashcroft, Missouri Republican, said late last month. "In so doing, he chooses the president over the [American Medical Association] and barbarity over the judgment of medicine."
Mr. Ashcroft and his strong opposition are in the minority.
Dr. Satcher enjoys broad support from both Democrats and Republicans, even Republicans who say they cannot vote for him.
"He is a respected family doctor, a respected scholar and a leader in the public health community," said a spokesman for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat.
Sen. Mike DeWine, Ohio Republican, said he would not feel comfortable voting …