The politically charged battle over the nomination of Dr. Henry W. Foster Jr., as Surgeon General faces a potentially make-or-break showdown vote today in a sharply divided Senate.
It was unclear if either side has the necessary votes to either ultimately confirm him or deny him the post. In an agreement reached Tuesday between Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and his Democratic counterpart, Tom Daschle, after three hours of debate on the nomination, the Senate will vote at 9 a.m. PDT to cut off further debate. If that vote does not get the 60 votes needed to close off the debate, a second cloture vote will occur on Thursday.
If either vote is successful, the Senate will then debate and vote on the controversial nomination. To be confirmed, Foster only needs a majority vote, which could be attainable. However, if both cloture votes fail, Foster’s nomination will be shelved, according to Dole and Daschle, who negotiated the arrangement Tuesday.
As they made their announcement, Foster’s supporters and critics alike engaged in furious behind-the-scenes lobbying amid considerable suspense over the outcome of today’s vote.