Schumer decides to limit debate on Califf nomination

‘I think it’s going to be tight, but I think he’s going to get there,’ said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told POLITICO. “We have some Republicans.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Told reporters Thursday that he still opposes Califf.

“I’m not going to talk about the conversations I had with the White House,” Blumenthal said. “I have conversations all the time…I don’t feel like there’s a real arm twist going on as far as I know.”

The FDA has been without a permanent commissioner for more than a year, leaving the agency without political direction to handle other major regulatory priorities, such as e-cigarettes. The Biden administration has spent months searching for a viable candidate for the job after several Democrats indicated they would not support Janet Woodcock, who served as acting commissioner, to remain at the top of the FDA due to of his involvement in decisions they say have exacerbated the opioid epidemic.

Still, Califf’s previous stint with the agency prompted Democratic senators from opioid-ravaged states, like Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, to oppose his nomination, arguing that he has not done enough to curb the labeling practices of regulators. Others have taken issue with his work in industry since leaving public service; Califf previously led the health strategy of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, earning millions in salary and stock. And despite its 89-4 confirmation vote in 2016, Califf has also faced headwinds from Republicans concerned about the FDA’s recent move to loosen restrictions on the prescription of the abortion pill mifepristone.

Senior White House aides, including White House Covid coordinator Jeff Zients and chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci, have since made calls on his behalf, and Califf himself recently held a series of one-on-one meetings. with undecided senators to try to assuage their concerns. . The administration now believes Califf has the 50 votes needed to be confirmed, said two of the people with knowledge of the matter. White House officials hope more senators will support him once they realize he is a lock to be confirmed.

Califf has won support from previously undecided Democrats in recent days, including Sens. Michael Benet of Colorado and Ron Wyden from Oregon.


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