Ashcroft's Opposition to Satcher for Surgeon General Job Lacks Votes

By Price, Joyce Howard | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 6, 1998 | Go to article overview

Ashcroft's Opposition to Satcher for Surgeon General Job Lacks Votes


Price, Joyce Howard, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Sen. John Ashcroft vowed yesterday to do everything in his power to assemble the 41 votes necessary to maintain a filibuster to prevent Senate action on the nomination of Dr. David Satcher as surgeon general.

The Missouri Republican's pledge came as Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, filed a petition for a cloture vote Tuesday to end debate over the nominee. It takes 60 votes to end a filibuster.

Mr. Ashcroft conceded he does not have the votes at this time to block Dr. Satcher's confirmation as surgeon general, a post that's been vacant since December 1994. But he said he hopes to rally more opposition by Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services said Dr. Satcher, now director of the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, isn't worried.

"We know Dr. Satcher has broad bipartisan support. Even his opponents recognize the votes are there to confirm him," Laurie Boeder said.

Mr. Ashcroft, who is considering a presidential run in 2000, has been the Senate's most vocal opponent of Dr. Satcher.

He has cited the nominee's opposition to a total ban on partial-birth abortions; his "tolerance of abortions for minor children without the consent of parents;" and his "endorsement of needle exchange programs" for drug addicts as reasons Dr. Satcher should not be confirmed by the Senate.

In another development yesterday, Mr. Ashcroft released internal government documents that indicate the CDC, early in Dr. Satcher's tenure as director, advocated repealing a ban on federal funding of needle-exchange programs and for providing "substantial" tax dollars for such programs.

The documents, which Dr. Satcher submitted to a senior Public Health Service official in December 1993, include "CDC comments" that described both proposals as "reasonable and appropriate."

"Given the significance of injection drug use in HIV transmission in the United States, it is important to implement NEPS [needle-exchange programs] as one possible component of comprehensive HIV prevention programs for drug users," the CDC said at that time. …

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