Dec. 16, 2014 -- Vivek Murthy was confirmed Monday evening as the next U.S. Surgeon General, after a confirmation process that lasted more than a year and a half due to concerns about his experience and opposition from the gun lobby.
The U.S. Senate voted 51 to 43 to confirm Murthy, a 37-year-old Harvard and Yale-educated doctor at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He replaces Boris Lushniak, who has served as acting surgeon general since July 2013, the Washington Post reported.
After President Barack Obama nominated Murthy for the position, senators in both parties expressed concerns that he might be too inexperienced for the role. There were also worries that Murthy's work in helping Obama get elected and his support for the health care overhaul made him too divisive a figure.
Murthy also faced strong opposition from the National Rifle Association because he supports tighter gun control laws, the Post reported.
However, at a hearing on Capital Hill earlier this year, Murthy said as surgeon general he would focus on public health issues where there is wide agreement, such as the country's obesity epidemic.
"I do not intend to use the surgeon general's office as a bully pulpit for gun control," he said at hearing.
Among Murthy's supporters are a large number of medical and public health groups, as well as former Surgeon General David Satcher, the Post reported.
In a statement, President Obama said Murthy will bring "his lifetime of experience promoting public health" to his role as surgeon general and help guide the nation's response to the Ebola crisis.
"Vivek's confirmation makes us better positioned to save lives around the world and protect the American people here at home," Obama said.