Senate Commerce advances Biden's top science nominee

Senate Commerce advances Biden's top science nominee
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The Senate Commerce Committee voted Thursday to advance President BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat threatens to vote against party's spending bill if HBCUs don't get more federal aid Overnight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes MORE’s nominee to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Five Republicans — Sens. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnWarren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens US gymnasts offer scathing assessment of FBI MORE (Tenn.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMore than 10,000 migrants await processing under bridge in Texas Senators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails MORE (Texas), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeEconomy adds just 235K jobs in August as delta hammers growth Lawmakers flooded with calls for help on Afghanistan exit Afghanistan fiasco proves we didn't leave soon enough MORE (Utah), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator: Buying Treasury bonds 'foolish' amid standoff over debt ceiling, taxes Internal poll shows Barnes with 29-point lead in Wisconsin Democratic Senate primary Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate facing 4 felony charges MORE (Wisc.) and Cynthia LummisCynthia Marie LummisGOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization Crypto debate set to return in force Crypto industry seeks to build momentum after losing Senate fight MORE (Wyo.) — voted against advancing Eric LanderEric LanderOvernight Health Care — White House proposes B strategy for pandemic preparedness White House unveils B pandemic preparedness plan Biden administration establishes program to recruit tech professionals to serve in government MORE’s nomination. All Democrats voted in favor. 

Lander will be the first person at the position since Biden elevated it to Cabinet level, and he is the only member of Biden’s Cabinet yet to be confirmed. 

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Lander faced pushback during his nomination hearing over allegations of downplaying the contributions of two female scientists, as well as over two meetings he had in the past with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein

Committee Chairwoman Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDelta variant's spread hampers Labor Day air travel, industry recovery Wyden asks White House for details on jet fuel shortage amid wildfire season Air travel hits pandemic high MORE (D-Wash.) said she would have “loved to see a woman” nominated for the position, but she supported Lander’s nomination. Cantwell said she expects to see women in the office play “very key leadership roles” and for diversity in science to be a focus for Lander. 

“Most importantly, Dr. Lander and I have come to a focus and an understanding that the very first task he should focus on is helping all of us add diversity of women and minorities in the science field. So he and I will be working aggressively on that,” she said. 

Ranking member Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerTop Republican: General told senators he opposed Afghanistan withdrawal NY Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 in latest House breakthrough case Florida Democrat becomes latest breakthrough COVID-19 case in House MORE (R-Miss.) said he supported Lander’s nomination after “carefully reviewing a number of matters that were raised” during his nomination hearing, and considering his responses to questions posed by senators. 

“I am grateful that he appreciates the need for equitable funding and research opportunities for all Americans, regardless of what state or region they live in,” Wicker said. 

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Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal Six Democrats blast Energy Department's uranium reserve pitch Facebook draws lawmaker scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens MORE (D-Mass.) also issued glowing praise for Lander ahead of the vote, calling him a “visionary scientist” and “uniquely suited” to lead the office.  

During his nomination hearing last month, Lander apologized in response to a question from Lummis about downplaying the work of two female scientists, Nobel Prize winners Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, in a 2016 paper. 

“I made a mistake, and when I make a mistake I own it and try to do better,” Lander said at the hearing. 

In response to his meetings with Epstein, Lander said the “sum total” of his interaction was that he met him briefly at two events within the span of three weeks in the spring of 2012. 

“I did not know about his sordid history before that point. As soon as I learned about it, I had nothing to do with him thereafter,” Lander said. 

Epstein had been a convicted sex offender since 2008. He died in 2019 awaiting trial on further sex trafficking charges involving teenage girls.