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 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 PortmanCommittee chairman aims for House vote on opioid bills by Memorial Day Flake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March MORE (R-Ohio), who face tough reelection bids, joined with Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Toomey to introduce bill broadening background checks for firearms Scott Walker backs West Virginia attorney general in GOP Senate primary MORE (W-Va.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyRegulators seek to remove barriers to electric grid storage Markey, Paul want to know if new rules are helping opioid treatment Oil spill tax on oil companies reinstated as part of budget deal MORE (Mass.) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonGingrich says arming teachers only long-term solution to school shootings Florida students turn to activism in wake of shooting CNN invites Trump to town hall with parents, students of Florida high school 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. 
 
Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Trump health chief backs CDC research on gun violence | GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix | Groups sue over cuts to teen pregnancy program GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix 30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn Murray30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help Mulvaney remarks on Trump budget plan spark confusion Overnight Finance: Mulvaney sparks confusion with budget remarks | Trump spars with lawmakers on tariffs | Treasury looks to kill 300 tax regs | Intel chief's warning on debt MORE (D-Wash.), the top members of the Senate's health committee, voiced support for Califf's nomination ahead of Monday's procedural vote, suggesting he was the right man for the job.
 
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.