Week ahead: Senate panel to vote on Trump's FDA pick

Week ahead: Senate panel to vote on Trump's FDA pick
© Getty Images

President Trump's pick to head the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to get a step closer to confirmation next week. 

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will meet Wednesday to vote on whether to advance Scott Gottlieb's nomination to the Senate floor for a full vote. 

Committee members battled earlier this month over whether Gottlieb will be able to separate his interests from those of the very industry he would be in charge of regulating, given his financial interests. Democrats expressed doubts he will be able to separate himself from the more than two-dozen drug and medical device companies he's either invested in or consulted for. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Republicans argued his experience in the healthcare field as a former physician and consultant is what makes him qualified for the job as FDA commissioner. 

Gottlieb has promised to recuse himself for one year from FDA matters that directly impact the companies he's tied to, and divest his financial interests. But he refused Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayPelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive House approves two child care bills aimed at pandemic GOP, Democratic relief packages B apart on vaccine funding MORE's (D-Wash.) request to recuse himself for two years from any matters at the FDA related to companies in which New Enterprise Associates is an investor.

Gottlieb served as a consultant and investor for two funds operated by the venture capital firm that invests in the healthcare sector.

While Murray expressed deep concerns about Gottlieb's ability to be impartial, Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchSenate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  Five takeaways as panel grills tech CEOs Trump awards medal of freedom to former congressman, Olympian Jim Ryun MORE (R-Utah) commended him during the April 4 hearing for being willing to give up private sector money for a government job.

"How stupid can you be?” he jokingly asked.

Despite the back and forth, Gottlieb is expected to advance through the committee.

ADVERTISEMENT

Lawmakers will be returning to Washington, D.C., after a two-week recess. And they'll immediately face a tight deadline. The focus next week will be on passing a government spending bill to avoid a shutdown at midnight on April 28th.

President Trump and his advisers have expressed confidence that lawmakers will be able to get a deal, but have also begun making shutdown preparations with federal agencies.

Lawmakers could pass a short-term spending bill to avoid a shutdown, while talks continue on larger funding issues.

There are also a number of regulatory hearings scheduled in the Senate and House in the coming week.

The Senate subcommittee on space, science, and competitiveness will hold a hearing Wednesday on reducing regulations in outer space.

Led by subcommittee Chairman Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOn The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP Trump tests GOP loyalty with election tweet and stimulus strategy Republicans dismiss Trump proposal to delay election MORE (R-Texas), Republicans hope to increase opportunities for private companies to travel into space.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday to examine the Obama-era "Waters of the United States" regulation.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday, where lawmakers will look for ways to reduce duplication and waste across the federal government.

IRS Inspector General J. Russell George and Eugene Dodaro, comptroller general at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), will both testify.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on President Trump's nomination of Makan Delrahim to serve as the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's antitrust division, which regulates corporate mergers.

Meanwhile, in the lower chamber, a House Transportation subcommittee will hold a hearing Wednesday to examine safety regulations for hazardous materials, railroads, and pipelines.

The House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on national security will hold a hearing Thursday to examine President Trump's proposed border wall.

The House Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing Thursday to review the college accreditation process.

A House Financial Services subcommittee will hold a hearing Thursday to explore safeguards aimed at protecting the U.S. financial system from being exploited by terrorists.