The Senate HELP Committee voted 13-8 on Thursday to advance Robert Califf's nomination to head the Food and Drug Administration, putting the Biden administration one step closer to installing a permanent leader at an agency critical to the pandemic response.
Two senators who caucus with Democrats — Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) — opposed the nomination. Six Republicans — Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Mike Braun of Indiana, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and Jerry Moran of Kansas — joined them in opposition.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) did not vote.
President Joe Biden nominated Califf to run the FDA in October, ending a lengthy search for a commissioner that took up much of the first year of his term.
The cardiologist previously served as FDA commissioner for a year toward the end of the Obama administration. His confirmation won broad bipartisan support at the time, but several centrist and progressive Democrats have suggested wariness over his drug industry ties and the likelihood that he'd overhaul how the agency handles opioids.
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