Remarks on Senate Action on the Nomination of Henry Foster To Be Surgeon General in Edison, New Jersey
Good afternoon. Today 43 Republicans in the Senate failed the fundamental test of fairness. By choosing to side with extremists who would do anything to block a woman's right to choose, those Senators have done a disservice to a good man, done a disservice to the nominating process, and sent a chilling message to the rest of the country.
The American people are smart enough to see through what just happened. They know this is not about my right to choose a Surgeon General; this is about the right of every woman to choose. The committee recommended Dr. Foster to the Senate. A clear and substantial majority of Senators were prepared to vote for his nomination. But a determined minority succumbed to political pressure and abused the filibuster rule.
It's wrong for a man as qualified and committed as Dr. Foster to be denied this chance to serve our country. He has gone where too few of us have ever dared to go. He has ridden the rickety elevators in high-rise projects to talk to young people about the importance of abstinence and avoiding teen pregnancy. He has traveled the backroads of rural Alabama, bringing health care and hope to women and children who would otherwise have never seen a doctor. He has been a father figure to many children who do not see their own fathers.
He has actually done something, in short, about the problems a lot of people in Washington just talk about. He's done something about teen pregnancy. He's done something to convince young people to abstain from sex. He's done something about women's health and crime prevention and giving young people hope for the future. One of his former patients even talked about how he talked her out of having an abortion.
Now, you would think that those who deplore teen pregnancy, advocate abstinence, and oppose abortion would want to support a man who has actually done something to advance the aims they say they share, instead of just use them as political weapons. But no, in their brave new world, raw political power and political correctness, pure political correctness, are all that matter. They are determined to call the tune to which the Republican Party in Congress and in their Presidential process march.
Well, they won a victory today, but America lost. And all those young people who came up here from Tennessee, what about them? What about those young people that came here believing in the congressional process and told the Members of Congress that Dr. Foster had encouraged them to avoid sex, to stay away from teen pregnancy, not to do drugs, to stay in school? They had a role model, and they saw their role model turned into a political football. In 1995, Henry Foster was denied even the right to vote.
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 the first day I met him. This is not a good day for the United States Senate. But it is a good day for Henry Foster. He didn't get what he deserved, but he is still deserving. Those who denied him the right to a vote, they may have pleased their political bosses, but they have shown a lack of leadership that will surely be remembered.
Thank you very much.
NOTE: The President spoke at approximately 3:45 p.m. at the landing area at the Ford Motor Co. plant.
William J. Clinton, Remarks on Senate Action on the Nomination of Henry Foster To Be Surgeon General in Edison, New Jersey Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/221310