A Senate panel has voted to advance the nomination of Robert Califf to lead the US Food and Drug Administration, the New York Times reports. It notes, though, that the committee vote was close, which likely portends another close vote when his nomination goes before the whole Senate.
President Joe Biden nominated Califf, who previously served as FDA commissioner during the Obama Administration, to the position in November. At the time, insiders told the Associated Press that Califf was a "safe choice" as he is known and respected in Washington.
According to the Times, Califf had the support of both Democrats and Republicans on the panel. It notes that Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), the ranking member of the committee, voted for Califf and urged other Republicans to follow suit due to Califf's experience and support of innovation. However, a handful of Democratic committee members opposed Califf's nomination, mostly citing Califf's record on opioids, the Times says. It adds that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also criticized Califf as an example of the "revolving door" between the agency and the private sector — Califf joined Alphabet's Verily after previously leaving FDA.