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Gardiner Considers Taking Up Armstrong Confirmation

Florida Department of Health

Senate President Andy Gardiner said late Wednesday he was considering bringing Surgeon General John Armstrong's nomination to the Senate floor, a potentially dramatic move aimed at breaking a log jam over the agency head's fate.

The confirmation of Armstrong, who is secretary of the Florida Department of Health, has been bottled up in the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee despite a lobbying effort by Gov. Rick Scott.

Speaking with reporters late Wednesday, Gardiner said he was weighing whether to bypass the committee and bring Armstrong's nomination directly to the full chamber -- something that would break with statements the president has made before.

"I've stood here before you guys and said that I would not pull somebody out of Ethics and Elections," said Gardiner, R-Orlando. "And I've got some real soul-searching to do to decide, should the entire Senate have a say on Dr. Armstrong?"

The Senate president also noted that Armstrong had cleared the committee that deals with health-care policy before running into a roadblock in Ethics and Elections.

But Gardiner also said he wasn't sure whether there was enough support for the embattled surgeon general among all 40 senators.

"I have not done a vote count," Gardiner said. "I don't know where the chamber would be if I brought him to the floor."

Any action would likely come next week. If not confirmed by the Senate, Armstrong would be forced out of the position he's held since 2012.

Copyright 2016 Health News Florida