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President BidenJoe BidenBiden’s FDA pick clears key Senate hurdle Overnight Health Care — DC ending mask, vaccine mandates American unity is key to a Europe whole and free MORE‘s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is headed towards a close confirmation vote after the Senate on Monday voted to shut down debate on his nomination.

The final confirmation vote on Robert Califf, which could come as early as Tuesday, is expected to be even closer than the 49-45 vote to invoke cloture. 

Five Republicans joined with Democrats to invoke cloture and end debate: Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsBiden’s FDA pick clears key Senate hurdle Manchin clarifies: He’d oppose second high court nominee right before presidential election Trump says he could have ousted ‘atrocious’ Susan Collins in 2020 MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiBiden’s FDA pick clears key Senate hurdle Manchin clarifies: He’d oppose second high court nominee right before presidential election This week: Confirmation fight over Biden’s FDA nominee comes to a head MORE (Alaska), Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrBiden’s FDA pick clears key Senate hurdle This week: Confirmation fight over Biden’s FDA nominee comes to a head On The Money: Border blockade hits US economy MORE (N.C.), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyBiden’s FDA pick clears key Senate hurdle Trump says he could have ousted ‘atrocious’ Susan Collins in 2020 This week: Confirmation fight over Biden’s FDA nominee comes to a head MORE (Utah), and Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntBiden’s FDA pick clears key Senate hurdle Hawley endorses candidate to succeed fellow Missouri Sen. Blunt On The Money — Inflation hits highest rate since February 1982 MORE (Mo.).

Prior to the vote, five Democrats had already spoken out against him; Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBiden’s FDA pick clears key Senate hurdle Why congressional Democrats should rethink their universal pre-k plan  Manchin clarifies: He’d oppose second high court nominee right before presidential election MORE (D-W.Va.), Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden’s FDA pick clears key Senate hurdle Sanders endorses Jessica Cisneros over sitting Democratic lawmaker This week: Confirmation fight over Biden’s FDA nominee comes to a head MORE (I-Vt.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyBiden’s FDA pick clears key Senate hurdle This week: Confirmation fight over Biden’s FDA nominee comes to a head Senators introduce a resolution honoring Tom Brady’s career MORE (D-Mass.), Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanBiden’s FDA pick clears key Senate hurdle This week: Confirmation fight over Biden’s FDA nominee comes to a head Democrats see inflation as growing problem for their agenda   MORE (D-N.H.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are expected to oppose Califf’s nomination.

Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) is absent after suffering a stroke, so if all Republicans who oppose Califf are present, Democrats will need one more vote in their favor to confirm.

Califf had slowly been picking up Democratic votes leading up to Monday by making individual pledges to lawmakers, including Sens. Dick DurbinDick DurbinBiden’s FDA pick clears key Senate hurdle The Hill’s Morning Report – World poised for war This week: Confirmation fight over Biden’s FDA nominee comes to a head MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden’s FDA pick clears key Senate hurdle Lina Khan won’t solve inflation Invent here, manufacture here MORE (Mass.), and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenBiden’s FDA pick clears key Senate hurdle This week: Confirmation fight over Biden’s FDA nominee comes to a head Late-night reports suggest CIA collecting more data on Americans MORE (Ore.). 

Califf, a cardiologist and Duke University researcher, was confirmed to the same post by a vote of 89-4 in 2016 when he was nominated by former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden’s FDA pick clears key Senate hurdle Manchin clarifies: He’d oppose second high court nominee right before presidential election Make some policy love this Valentine’s Day MORE, but faced unexpected opposition this time.

The pushback appeared to catch the White House by surprise, and officials engaged in an intense behind-the scenes effort to shore up the votes for Califf, as conservatives tried to galvanize a handful of expected Democratic “no” votes and sink his confirmation. 

“At this critical moment we need a trusted hand to lead FDA,” said Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayBiden’s FDA pick clears key Senate hurdle Top lawmakers call for information on bomb threats at HBCUs Collins: Biden pledge to nominate Black woman to court politicized process MORE (Wash.), the No. 3 Senate Democrat, on the floor just ahead of the vote. 

Manchin has been highly critical of Califf ever since Biden announced his nomination in the fall, both for his industry ties and because of FDA’s role in the opioid crisis while Califf was at the helm.

Manchin also voted against Califf in 2016.

“Nothing that Dr. Califf has said or done leads me to believe he will operate FDA any differently than he did during his previous tenure,” Manchin said on the floor. “I cannot for the life of me understand why this administration is so committed to asking each of us in the Senate to reconfirm a person who had the opportunity to make a difference, but showed us who he really was? Do not expect a different outcome if he is given another opportunity to lead the FDA.” 

At the same time, Republicans are facing pressure from anti-abortion groups, which have mobilized against Califf. He gained just four GOP votes in a committee vote last month.

Anti-abortion groups in particular have been lobbying hard against Califf. The Susan B. Anthony List said it would “key vote” Califf’s nomination as a result of his work on the abortion drug mifepristone during the Obama administration.



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