Senate committee advances Califf’s nomination as FDA commissioner

Regulatory NewsRegulatory News | 13 January 2022 |  By 

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on Thursday voted 13-8 to advance the nomination of Robert Califf for a second stint as commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The vote split largely along party lines, with six Republicans joining Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) in voting against moving the nomination forward. Both Sanders and Hassan, along with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Ed Markey (D-MA) have previously announced they would oppose Califf’s nomination.
Califf, who previously served as FDA commissioner in the final year of the Obama administration, will need bipartisan support to be confirmed, though a confirmation vote is not yet scheduled. Califf enjoyed bipartisan support during his previous nomination, when the Senate voted 89-4 in favor of confirmation. Three of the senators who voted against Califf’s confirmation are still in the Senate: Manchin, Markey and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). (RELATED: Senate confirms Califf as next FDA commissioner, Regulatory Focus 24 February 2016)
The vote to advance Califf’s nomination was held with little fanfare in an executive session of the HELP committee and comes one month after Califf emerged from a two-hour nomination hearing largely unscathed. (RELATED: Califf skates through nomination hearing, Regulatory Focus 14 December 2021)
During the nomination hearing, Califf said his top priority as FDA commissioner would be on emergency preparedness and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. His other priorities would include honing the agency’s focus on protecting patients and consumers and keeping abreast of advances in science and technology.
“As our nation continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the scientists and experts at the Food and Drug Administration who are working diligently to ensure we have safe and effective vaccines, tests, treatments and more, deserve a strong leader who will make sure science always comes first. As a former FDA commissioner, Dr. Califf is an experienced pick to lead this important agency, and today the Committee advanced his nomination in a bipartisan manner,” said committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA).
Just before the vote was held, the top Republican on the committee, Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC), urged his colleagues to support Califf’s nomination.
"This nomination took too long to be made. The Biden Administration took over 10 months to make a decision on this critical public health nomination, but I’m glad that the Chair and I are on the same page of moving this nomination forward as quickly as we can. We’ve worked together every step of the way to make this process efficient, and I appreciate her efforts to get this done,” Burr said.


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