The nomination of Dean Winslow, President Trump’s pick to head the military health system, may be in jeopardy as the Senate Armed Services Committee continues a hold over his criticism of U.S. gun laws as “insane” and his advocacy of “therapeutic abortion services.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the committee chairman, said Thursday that members have not been convinced to lift their hold after Winslow, who is also a close friend of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, tried to explain his comments during a November confirmation hearing.
“He sent a correction letter to try to clear up comments that he made and there’s still members of the committee that have concerns,” McCain told the Washington Examiner.
McCain said he was uncertain whether Winslow’s nomination would eventually be reported by Armed Services to the full Senate for a confirmation vote, and that members have the ability to hold nominations indefinitely.
“Members of the committee, they can say that they don’t want the committee to report out their names,” he said.
Winslow, who is a veteran and a medical professor at Stanford University, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
He offered up his take on gun laws, seemingly unprompted, during a hearing after a question about domestic violence convictions and the Texas church massacre in November by shooter Devin Kelley.
“I’d also like to, and I may get in trouble with other members of the committee, just say how insane it is that in the United States of America a civilian can go out and buy a semi-automatic assault rifle like an AR-15, which apparently was the weapon that was used,” Winslow said.
Winslow also touched on another political hot-button issue in the written materials he submitted to Armed Services during his confirmation hearing.
“I also believe that therapeutic abortion services should be provided by the military in appropriately staffed facilities,” Winslow wrote in the submitted questionnaire.
Winslow told the committee he was referring to medically necessary abortions, such as those where the life of the mother could be at risk.
McCain seized on the response at the time and on Thursday said Winslow had allayed some of the concerns with his letter.
“I think that it helped but abortion is a very, very sensitive issue, obviously,” he said.