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. 

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 AyotteAudit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years No, the US did not spend million on a gas station in Afghanistan MORE (R-N.H.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanTax rules will be subject to more OMB review under new memo Ending sex trafficking tomorrow requires preventing child abuse today Doctors bristle at push for opioid prescription limits MORE (R-Ohio), who face tough reelection bids, joined with Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPompeo lacks votes for positive vote on panel Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Heitkamp becomes first Dem to back Pompeo for secretary of State MORE (W-Va.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDem senators demand Trump explain ties to Koch brothers Overnight Cybersecurity: Senators want info on 'stingray' surveillance in DC | Bills to secure energy infrastructure advance | GOP lawmaker offers cyber deterrence bill Overnight Tech: Alleged robocall kingpin testifies before Congress | What lawmakers learned | Push for new robocall rules | Facebook changes privacy settings ahead of new data law | Time Warner CEO defends AT&T merger at trial MORE (Mass.) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonOvernight Energy: Senate confirms Bridenstine as NASA chief | Watchdog probes Pruitt’s use of security detail | Emails shine light on EPA science policy changes Scott ramps up spending to million in Florida Senate race Overnight Energy: Trump NASA pick advances after drama | White House office to investigate Pruitt's soundproof booth | 170 lawmakers call for Pruitt to resign 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.