Senate GOP Chooses Frist

"We must dedicate ourselves to healing those wounds of division that have been reopened so prominently in he last few weeks," Frist said.

Senate Republicans unanimously elected Frist as their new leader during an unprecedented 45-minute conference call among most of the 51-member Senate Republican Caucus, ending a two-week political firestorm that brought down former leader Trent Lott and threatened to derail the GOP's efforts to reach out to minorities.

"I told our colleagues that my intentions are indeed to serve, not be served, so that we together as a group we will be able to capture what is truly remarkable in that wonderful institution called the United States Senate," Frist said.

The 50-year-old Frist, a wealthy heart surgeon, officially becomes Senate majority leader when the GOP takes control of the chamber in January.

More than 40 senators participated in the conference call, and elected Frist unanimously with a voice vote, senators said.

Lott, R-Miss., spoke for more than three minutes, and sounded very gracious and thankful "as enthusiastic as anyone could possibly sound in that circumstance," the source said. Lott offered to do whatever he could to help the new leadership team, the source added.

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Senator Bill Frist, M.D.

  • Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • In 1974, Frist graduated from Princeton University, specializing in health care policy.

  • In 1978, Frist graduated from Harvard Medical School and spent the next few years in surgical training.

  • First is board certified in general surgery and heart surgery.

  • Frist has performed 200 heart and lung transplant procedures.

  • First elected to the U.S. Senate in November of 1994 and elected to a second term in November of 2000.

  • Senate committees Frist serves on: Budget, Foreign Relations, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

    Source: contributed to this report.