President Bush’s Surgeon General nominee James Holsinger appeared before the Senate health committee on July 12, forced to defend his controversial positions on homosexuality. Yet three months later, Holsinger is “no closer to becoming the nation’s next surgeon general.”
ThinkProgress today spoke with a spokesperson for chairman Edward Kennedy (D-MA) who said the committee still has not received a response to a follow-up questionnaire it sent Holsinger three months ago:
We sent out the questions on 7/26 and requested that they be returned by COB on 8/10. We have not received the answers and there is no Committee action scheduled at this time.
Holsinger’s lengthy delay indicates that Bush may be angling to recess appoint Holsinger. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports:
The committee must vote before the full Senate can consider the nomination, and senators are hoping to adjourn for the year by mid-November.
The delay leaves open the possibility that Holsinger will either have to wait until next year for a confirmation vote or get the job through a “recess appointment” by Bush. […]
A recess appointment would allow Holsinger to serve as surgeon general until the end of the current Congress late next year.
Bush has been more than willing to use this executive power to avoid or delay battles over divisive nominees such as former U.N. ambassador John Bolton and Swift Boat-funder Sam Fox. In June, the Washington Post reported that Bush had filled 105 full-time positions with recess appointments, compared to just 42 such appointments under President Clinton at the same point in his presidency.
Holsinger has come under intense criticism for his long history of prejudice toward gays and lesbians. He founded a church that “ministers to people who no longer wish to be gay or lesbian” and “opposed a decision to allow a practicing lesbian to be an associate pastor” in the United Methodist Church. In 1991, he also authored a graphic document arguing that gay sex is “intuitively” unnatural and can lead to “lacerations, perforations and deaths.”