Biden’s FDA nominee advances through key Senate committee

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The Senate Health Committee on Thursday voted to advance the nomination of Robert Califf as commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, moving him one step closer to confirmation.

The panel voted 13-8 in support of Califf, a cardiologist and Duke University researcher, who previously ran the agency at the end of the Obama administration. 

Since he left government, Califf has advised Google Health and its spinoff, Verily Life Sciences.

In 2016, Califf was easily confirmed by a vote of 89-4, but the bipartisan opposition during Thursday’s committee vote likely signals that this time will be tighter.

Some Democratic senators had already voiced opposition over his ties to industry and the FDA’s role in the opioid crisis, like Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who joined six Republicans in voting against advancing the nomination to the floor. 

Ahead of the committee vote, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) reiterated his disappointment in Califf’s nomination, tweeting that it was an “insult to those who have been impacted by the drug epidemic.”

Sanders also opposed Califf in 2016, though he was not present for the final vote. The votes against him at the time came from Manchin, Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).

On the Republican side, anti-abortion groups have been lobbying hard against Califf, though Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.), the top Republican on the panel, voted in favor of advancing the nomination. 

Califf received additional GOP votes from Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine).

Tags Bernie Sanders Drug prices Ed Markey FDA Joe Manchin Kelly Ayotte Lisa Murkowski Maggie Hassan Mitt Romney Opioid crisis Richard Burr Susan Collins
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