McConnell sets up confirmation vote on FDA chief
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-Ky.) is setting up the Senate to vote on President Obama's nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration, despite pushback from lawmakers in both parties. 

McConnell filed cloture on Robert Califf's nomination to be FDA commissioner on Thursday evening. Senators are scheduled to take a procedural vote at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 22, after the Senate's week-long recess. 
 
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Sixty votes will be needed to overcome the procedural hurdle, which could be difficult to meet. 
 
Senators on both sides of the aisle—including Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Clip shows Larry David and Bernie Sanders reacting after discovering they're related For now, Trump dossier creates more questions than answers MORE (I-Vt.), who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination—have pledged to oppose Califf's nomination. Lawmakers cite concerns over his ties to the pharamacutical industry and the FDA's response to the opioid epidemic. 
 
 
"We need to have a debate in this country on opioids," he added. "I am committed to continuing to work on this issue and using Dr. Robert Califf's nomination as the means by which we can have a debate here on the floor of the United States Senate on these issues." 
 
 
Califf, who joined the FDA as a deputy commissioner in February 2015, announced a sweeping plan earlier this month aimed at tackling substance abuse. Both Markey and Sen. Joe Minchin (D-W.Va.) suggested the agency's announcement doesn't go far enough. 
 
The Center for Disease Control says that deaths from prescription drugs and heroin overdoses reached an all-time high in 2014, increasing 14 percent from the previous year. 
 
The Senate's Health committee approved Califf's nomination last month.