Republicans Move to Block Surgeon General Nominee

By Jonathan Karl/CNN

Washington (CNN) -- Sen. John Ashcroft will launch an effort to block President Bill Clinton's nominee for surgeon general, David Satcher. The move sets the stage for a showdown between Senate Republicans and the White House.

"Ashcroft will go to the wall to stop this nomination," said a source familiar with the Missouri Republican's plans. "Satcher is the next Bill Lann Lee," the source added, referring to the last Clinton nominee blocked by conservative Republicans.

Lee was Clinton's nominee to head the civil-rights division of the Justice Department, who was criticized for his views on affirmative action. After a stalemate with the Senate, Clinton appointed Lee to the job in an acting capacity.

White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry said Republicans have no legitimate reason to block Satcher and are just trying to "put another scalp on the wall."

Ashcroft will join Christian conservatives Randy Tate and Gary Bauer at a press conference Tuesday to announce his efforts to block the Satcher nomination.

The conservatives will condemn Satcher's involvement in a study in Africa on pregnant women with AIDS, a source involved with the press conference said. The study was funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control, which Satcher currently heads.

The conservatives will also take issue with Satcher's position on late-term abortion.

Ashcroft will put a "hold" on Satcher's nomination, making it difficult under Senate rules for his nomination to come up for a vote. The nomination cleared the Labor and Human Resources Committee by a 12 to 5 vote in October.

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