Florida Democrats walk out of Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo's confirmation hearing

Sen. Lauren Book calls Ladapo's responses 'disrespectful'
Posted at 2:17 PM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 17:01:17-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Democrats walked out of a Senate confirmation hearing for the state's surgeon general Wednesday morning.

The dramatic moment came in the middle of a health policy meeting.

Minority Leader Lauren Book, D-Plantation, said Dr. Joseph Ladapo wasn't giving straight answers to yes or no questions, prompting her and three colleagues to walk out.

WATCH: Sen. Lauren Book walks out of hearing

Sen. Lauren Book, other Florida Democrats walk out of surgeon general's confirmation hearing

Members had asked whether masks and vaccines were effective.

Also, they asked if the doctor felt regret for refusing to wear a mask during a meeting with a Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, last year.

Book called Ladapo's responses "disrespectful" and explained why her caucus left.

"Wasting time listening to, again, his verbal jujitsu was not going to serve the people that we are here to serve," Book said. "We will get to see this confirmation again on the floor. I am sure that all of our fellow colleagues will be a no vote on the floor."

Sen. Lauren Book speaks during Dr. Joseph Ladapo's confirmation hearing, Jan. 26, 2022
Sen. Lauren Book speaks about her frustrations during Dr. Joseph Ladapo's confirmation hearing in Tallahassee held Jan. 26, 2022.

Democrats vowed to unite in opposition when the nomination reaches the floor.

"All he has done is criticize the president, criticize the process. He came out here and tried to make a mockery of us, and we left," said Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-Miami.

Republicans carried on the hearing, unanimously approving Ladapo.

"I think we're looking at a person who is capable in the capacity of running the public health system," said Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah Gardens.

His views on vaccination and masking align with Gov. Ron DeSantis, who tapped him for the position in September.

WATCH: Dr. Joseph Ladapo shares thoughts after Democratic walkout

Dr. Joseph Ladapo shares thoughts after Democrats walk out of confirmation hearing

Ladapo's career is a mix between physician and clinical researcher and critics have questioned his public health experience.

Following the vote, Ladapo said he wished Democrats well, despite the walkout.

"I have no ill will toward them, and I hope that we can work together on issues of public health relevance to Floridians," Ladapo said.

He was then asked if he felt that he adequately answered questions from Democrats.

"My goal was to accurately answer their questions. I think I fulfilled that goal," Ladapo said.

The doctor has vowed Florida will be "done with fear" as it fights COVID and said he's bringing a "holistic" approach to the pandemic.

His nomination faces one more committee before heading to the full Senate.

Democrats will likely have a tough time halting his approval since the GOP remains in control of the upper chamber.