The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on Thursday voted 13-8 to advance the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf to be commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), moving the nominee one step closer to full Senate confirmation.

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Democrat Maggie Hassan (D-NH) opposed the nomination along with six Republicans: Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mike Braun (R-IN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Tim Scott (R-SC), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), and Jerry Moran (R-KS).

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) did not vote.

Several Republicans on the committee voted to advance Dr. Califf’s nomination to the full Senate floor, including Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Mitt Romney (R-UT).

Dr. Califf served as FDA commissioner during the last year of the Obama administration. He was confirmed by the full Senate for that position by a vote of 89-4. Dr. Califf has previously served as deputy commissioner of the FDA’s Office of Medical Products and Tobacco. Since leaving the FDA in 2016, Dr. Califf led clinical policy and strategy for Verily, the life sciences arm of Google.

Born in South Carolina, he earned an undergraduate degree from Duke University, a medical degree from the Duke University School of Medicine, and completed his internal medicine residency at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Califf returned to Duke to complete his fellowship in cardiology, where he focused his career leading clinical trials at Duke until joining the FDA in 2015.

If confirmed by the Senate, Dr. Califf would replace acting commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock.

 

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