• May 21, 2024

FDA Nominee Faces Stiff Senate Opposition

 FDA Nominee Faces Stiff Senate Opposition

Robert Califf (Photo: FDA)

Robert Califf

U.S. President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration is facing stiff opposition in the Senate.

According to an article in The New York Times, abortion foes are urging Republican lawmakers to reject Robert Califf, who previously led the agency during the final year of the Obama administration. Meanwhile, key Democrats are withholding support over Califf’s opioid policies and industry ties.

At least five Democrats are publicly opposing his nomination, so Califf needs at least five Republicans to support him in the evenly divided Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris has a tie-breaking vote.

The FDA commissioner role has been subject to Senate confirmation since 1988, unlike the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who is a presidential appointee. The nominee tends to be subject to sharp questioning, but observers say the decision has never been so wrapped up in national politics unrelated to the nominee’s qualifications.

With no confirmed leader, Janet Woodcock, the interim commissioner, can serve while the nomination is pending. If Califf’s nomination is voted down, she could lead the agency for 210 more days, according to the Government Accountability Office.