The Senate voted 98 to 1 today in favor of the nomination of Dr. Louis W. Sullivan as health and human services secretary, after being told he will be “a caring advocate” for millions of poor Americans.
The sole dissenting vote was cast by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), who said he was disturbed that Sullivan has declined to take a final position on several abortion-related issues, including whether the federal government should back medical research using tissue from aborted fetuses.
Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.) praised the Atlanta doctor’s commitment to providing health care for the needy and said his policies at HHS will define President Bush’s call for a “kinder, gentler America.” Sullivan will be the only black in Bush’s Cabinet.
“I am confident Dr. Sullivan is going to be a caring advocate for these millions of Americans,” Bentsen said as Republicans and Democrats alike praised the nomination.
Sullivan won 19-0 approval in the Senate Finance Committee last week and no opposition surfaced Monday at a courtesy hearing before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, which did not vote separately on the nomination.
Most senators on the two panels were highly complimentary of Sullivan, a 55-year-old blood specialist who founded the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and will step down as its president to take the HHS job.
Few displayed much interest in Sullivan’s views on abortion, an issue that has caused controversy for the nominee since his remarks in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he favored abortion rights and to Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.) that he supported the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.