Updated Feb 15, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Senate confirms Robert Califf as FDA commissioner

Dr. Robert Califf testifies during his nomination hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee November 17, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Dr. Robert Califf testifies during his nomination hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee November 17, 2015 in Washington, DC. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 50-46 to confirm Robert Califf as head of the Food and Drug Administration.

Driving the news: Califf was nominated by President Biden to lead the FDA, a crucial health agency that has been without a permanent leader for more than a year.

  • Six Republican senators voted in favor of the confirmation, while five Democrats voted against him.

The big picture: The vote puts an end to a contentious confirmation battle for Califf, who faced opposition from Democrats who had concerns about his ties to the drug industry and fears he will not act aggressively enough on the opioid epidemic.

  • Anti-abortion rights groups also urged members to vote against Califf's nomination due to concerns about how the agency would handle abortion drug rules.
  • Califf, a cardiologist with extensive research experience, served as FDA commissioner during former President Obama's final year in office.

What they're saying: Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) was one of a handful of Republican senators who supported Califf's nomination.

  • "I urge my colleagues to support Dr. Califf’s nomination because he will provide the leadership needed to promote today’s biomedical advancements and help to pave the way for tomorrow’s innovation," Burr said, according to the New York Times.

What to watch: It's not yet clear when Califf will be sworn in as FDA commissioner, STAT News reports.

Go deeper: Biden's FDA nominee faces uncertain Senate vote

Editor's note: This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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