Obama's FDA chief overcomes hurdle
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The Senate voted 80-6 to end debate on President Obama's nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), moving the nomination one step closer to confirmation.

Four of the six no votes on Obama's nominee came from Democrats. A final vote on Robert Califf's nomination is expected as soon as Tuesday. 

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Despite widespread support, Califf has drawn opposition from senators in both parties over concerns about his ties to the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA's strategy to combat an opioid epidemic.
 
Sens. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteStale, misguided, divisive: minimum wage can't win elections Trump voter fraud commission sets first meeting outside DC RNC chair warns: Republicans who refused to back Trump offer 'cautionary tale' MORE (R-N.H.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanWeek ahead in tech: Debate over online sex trafficking bill heats up 'Hillbilly Elegy' author won't run for Senate Brown, Portman urge Trump administration to move quickly on a steel decision MORE (R-Ohio), who face tough reelection bids, joined with Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinGOP sees fresh opening with Dems’ single payer embrace Trump steps up courtship of Dems The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (W-Va.), Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Regulation: FTC launches probe into Equifax | Dems propose tougher data security rules | NYC aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions | EPA to reconsider Obama coal ash rule Overnight Cybersecurity: Kaspersky to testify before House | US sanctions Iranians over cyberattacks | Equifax reveals flaw that led to hack Dems propose data security bill after Equifax hack MORE (Mass.) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDem asks airlines to cap airfares ahead of Hurricane Maria Trump encourages Rick Scott to run for Senate Overnight Regulation: House moves to block methane rule | Senators wrestle with allowing driverless trucks | EPA delays toxic waste rule MORE (Fla.) to vote against moving forward on Califf's nomination. 
 
Ayotte and Portman have made bolstering the federal government's ability to prevent and treat drug addiction center to their reelection campaigns.
 
Markey and Manchin suggested earlier Monday that while they likely wouldn't be able to prevent Califf from being confirmed, they would use his nomination to try to force a debate on opioid and heroin addition that would stretch into the appropriations process.  
 
"This is the beginning of a long struggle," Markey said. "We need the FDA to be a top cop on the beat, not a rubber stamp." 
 
With Califf currently serving as a deputy commissioner for the FDA, Manchin added that the next commissioner must be willing to take the agency in a different direction. 
 
The two Democrats suggested they would use part of the 30 hours allowed under Senate rules before the final vote to read letters from their constituents who have been impacted by addiction. 
 
 
The Senate's Health, Education, Pensions and Labor Committee easily approved Califf's nomination last month.
 
Deaths from prescription drugs and heroin overdose reached an all-time high in 2014, according to the Center for Disease Control.