But that depended on the administration submitting the required documents to the committee by November 19. She missed that deadline, likely pushing Califf’s confirmation vote back to January. Document submission is a formality in the confirmation process, but must be completed to ensure Senators have all the documents they need to fully consider a candidate.
An aide to the Democratic Senate AID committee said the panel received Califf’s documents on Monday and was working “to schedule a hearing as soon as possible.”
The White House declined to comment.
The timing issue represents the latest complication in a months-long effort to install a permanent chief atop an FDA who is at the center of the Covid-19 response and vaccination campaign.
Even before Biden officially took office, his administration was considering Janet Woodcock, longtime FDA regulator, to lead the agency. But Woodcock faced opposition from a handful of Senate Democrats over the FDA’s track record of opioid approval and perceptions it was too close to the pharmaceutical industry.
The White House spent the following months searching for alternative candidates, approaching more than a dozen potential candidates before settling on Califf, who led the FDA for a year in the Obama administration.
The lengthy process frustrated FDA staff exhausted by two years of pandemic pressure and left in the dark about who would be their next permanent boss. It also intrigued some members of the broader drug community, who privately questioned why the administration had taken so long to find a candidate – to pick one who faced the same criticism as those who did. were thrown against Woodcock earlier this year.
Three Democratic senators have already expressed deep reservations about Califf’s candidacy regarding his connection to FDA decision-making on opioids, as well as his work for various pharmaceutical companies.
Still, the White House is counting on Califf to gain some Republican support in the equally divided Senate, as well as the vast majority of Democrats. HELP President Patty Murray has already approved her candidacy.
Murray is due to meet with Califf virtually on December 1, the HELP committee assistant said.