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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Foster Vote Killed Off In Senate

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate on Thursday ended the grueling saga of surgeon general nominee Henry Foster, blocking for the second day in a row a Democratic effort to cut off debate and force a vote on his confirmation.


The nomination, caught up for nearly five months in the gritty politics of abortion and presidential campaigns, is now effectively dead.


An angry President Bill Clinton said after the 57-43 vote, which remained three short, "A minority in the Senate may have denied him this job, but I am confident that he will go on to serve our country. I think more of Henry Foster today than on the first day I met him.''


White House aides hinted that the administration may be planning an end run around Congress, naming Foster to head a task force on teen pregnancy while not offering another surgeon general candidate.


Foster, surrounded in the Capitol by a swarm of supporting senators just minutes after the vote, conceded disappointment in not getting the job he once said was perfect for him. But he insisted, "I remain strong.''


He said the process had been arduous, and that he had been "naive" -- presumably a reference to the way he had handled questions about the number of abortions he had performed in his four decades as an obstetrician-gynecologist. Foster's first off-the-cuff response of one, then 12, then 39, was the starting fuel anti-abortion opponents ultimately used to mount a blistering campaign against him.


The upbeat tenor of Foster's analysis of his experience was a far cry, however, from the openly hostile debate that preceded Thursday's vote. While Foster supporters raged over the "improper'' role of presidential politics, Foster's opponents attacked his character and his history as a medical practitioner.


Democrats charge Foster has suffered at the hands of Republican presidential politics. Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole of Kansas and his rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, deny this, but were behind the filibuster maneuver. Both are in a race for support from social conservatives and the Christian Right, who oppose Foster.