WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — President Joe Biden announced on Friday he has nominated Dr. Robert Califf to lead the Food and Drug Administration, a move that has been anticipated for the past several months.
Califf is a cardiologist at Duke University and has previously served as FDA commissioner at the end of the Obama administration.
“Dr. Robert Califf is one of the most experienced clinical trialists in the country, and has the experience and expertise to lead the Food and Drug Administration during a critical time in our nation’s fight to put an end to the coronavirus pandemic,” Biden said in a statement Friday. “As the FDA considers many consequential decisions around vaccine approvals and more, it is mission-critical that we have a steady, independent hand to guide the FDA.”
Biden waited until the last minute to make the nomination because of the federal Vacancies Act, the acting commissioner Janet Woodcock would no longer be able to serve in the temporary role as of Monday unless the President put a nominee forward.
Califf’s nomination faces a battle in the 50-50 Senate with Democrats holding a razor-thin margin as Vice President Kamala Harris breaks the tie in favor of the Democrats. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has already announced he’s opposing Califf’s nomination, citing the opioid epidemic as the reason.
“I have made it abundantly clear that correcting the culture at the FDA is critical to changing the tide of the opioid epidemic,” Manchin said in a statement Friday. “Instead, Dr. Califf’s nomination and his significant ties to the pharmaceutical industry take us backward now forward.”
Biden said he is confident Califf would be confirmed and urged the Senate to act quickly as the FDA is the key agency to tackling the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Dr. Califf had strong bipartisan support in the Senate in 2016, and I urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Dr. Califf so he can continue the important work being done at this critical moment,” Biden said.
Califf had support from both Democrats and Republicans during Obama’s term, where he was confirmed by the Senate with a vote of 89 to 4. During his run as FDA Commissioner, he called for a plan to reassess the agency’s approach to opioid medications.
“I am honored to be nominated by President Biden for this position at a critical time for our country,” Califf said in a statement. “There’s a lot of work to do, and if confirmed I look forward to rejoining the great team at the FDA to help in their inspiring mission to serve the public.”