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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Dr. John Armstrong will not be confirmed as surgeon general



It looks as though Dr. John Armstrong will no longer be the surgeon general after Friday.

Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, confirmed that he and President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, spoke this morning and that Gardiner will not bring the embattled surgeon general to the floor for a confirmation vote by the full Senate. Without that vote, Armstrong will lose his job.

Armstrong, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2012 to run the Department of Health, has had his confirmation stuck in the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, where he did not have the votes needed to advance to the full Senate.

All this week, Gardiner has said that he is considering whether to bring up a vote, despite Armstrong not passing through the committee. Gardiner did not confirm a conversation with Braynon but said he will discuss the issue with reporters this afternoon.

Braynon has been among those leading the charge to remove Armstrong from office following reports of rising HIV rates, shrinking county health clinics and 9,000 sick kids being removed from the state's Children's Medical Services program. But regardless of what each senator thinks, he said, it's inappropriate to bring a floor vote without the approval of the Ethics and Elections Committee.

"I just believe if he didn't pass through the committee, then he shouldn't come to the floor," Braynon said.

As Senate president, Gardiner can force a vote on the issue, but doing so would be an unusual move.

So, too, would be the refusal by a Republican-controlled Senate to confirm the Republican governor's nominee to run a state agency.

The last time an agency head was not confirmed was in 1995, when the Republican Senate refused to confirm Jim Towey, an appointee of Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles.

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 9, 2016 12:58pm]


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