On numerous occasions, John Ashcroft used his power as a Senator to block nominations he opposed. Here's his own e-mail from 1995 defending his support for a filibuster of Dr. Henry Foster for Surgeon General.

Date: Thu, 27 Jul 95 09:35:20 EST
To: Heyward Robinson
Subject: The nomination of Henry Foster

Thank you for contacting my office via INTERNET regarding the nomination of Dr. Henry Foster. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns.

As a member of the United States Senate, I take my Article II, Section 2 "advise and consent" responsibilities very seriously. In general, I believe the President should have broad latitude to appoint those individuals who he believes can best represent the nation's interests at home and abroad. At the same time, I will not hesitate to withhold my support for any nominee who I believe is unable to serve the country in the capacity in which he or she has been nominated.

On Tuesday, February 28, 1995, the Administration formally forwarded Dr. Henry Foster's nomination to become U.S. Surgeon General to the Senate. The submission of the 61-year old doctor's name was delayed because of the time involved in completing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background check and other necessary paperwork.

If confirmed, Dr. Foster would replace Dr. Joycelyn Elders. President Clinton dismissed Elders late last year after a series of contentious remarks she had made on a variety of public health issues.

On June 21, the U.S. Senate voted 57-43 not to end debate on the nomination of Dr. Foster. Because 60 votes are needed to invoke cloture, thereby ending debate, the 57 vote total was three votes short of the amount required. Nonetheless, Senator Robert Dole (R-KS) agreed to and called a second vote the following day. That vote ended with the same tally, all but ensuring Dr. Foster will not become the next U.S. Surgeon General.

Because I had serious questions about several of Dr. Foster's assertions, as well as some concerns about his ability to provide an effective voice on the variety of public health issues I voted against the nomination. In the event of any further floor votes, I do not intend to change my position on Dr. Foster's nomination.

Thanks again for your interest in the nomination of Dr. Foster. If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my office.

John Ashcroft
United States Senate

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