Today, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held an executive session to consider the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf to be the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, and other nominees to fill vacancies at the Department of Labor and Department of Education.
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee, voted in support of Dr. Califf to serve as FDA Commissioner. The Senate HELP Committee reported Dr. Califf out of the Committee by a vote of 13-8.
Ranking Member Burr’s full prepared statement for the record:
“Good morning. Thank you, Chair Murray for holding this markup today.
“I am pleased to vote to report the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf for Commissioner of Food and Drugs out of the HELP Committee so that the full Senate can consider his nomination as soon as possible.
“The position of FDA Commissioner is one of the most significant public health positions in the federal government.
“This nomination took too long to be made. The Biden Administration took over 10 months to make a decision on this critical public health nomination, but I’m glad that the Chair and I are on the same page of moving this nomination forward as quickly as we can. We’ve worked together every step of the way to make this process efficient, and I appreciate her efforts to get this done.
“The FDA has regulatory oversight over one fifth of the United States’ consumer spending and touches the lives of every American. It serves as the international gold standard of safety and efficacy and companies around the world look to gaining FDA approval as a key component of their business strategy.
“It is critical that we have effective and accountable leadership at the FDA, particularly as we continue to battle against the worst pandemic in over a century.
“Dr. Califf brings nearly unparalleled experience to this role, and he will provide leadership at a time when we need it. I believe Dr. Califf is the right person to lead the FDA right now, and address the challenges facing the agency and those to come.
“At his confirmation hearing, Dr. Califf committed that the pandemic response will be his first priority.
“He will be responsible for maintaining FDA’s mission as we enter a new era of biomedical innovation and build upon successes that resulted in faster medical product development learned during this pandemic.
“He has committed that he won’t take the agency backwards, that he will build on the success in modernizing and speeding up development and review that the FDA has done in the past two years.
“He is supportive of helping to develop adaptable platform technologies that will move innovative products to patients more quickly.
“He plans to address FDA’s systemic hiring challenges and prioritize improving the workforce at the agency to ensure it has the right scientists and experts to keep pace with biomedical technology and innovation.
“Dr. Califf is up to the task of leading the FDA as Congress evaluates its human medical product user fee programs and considers their reauthorization.
“Dr. Califf understands the importance of the accelerated approval pathway and its significance for patients who may gain access to a life-saving treatment faster.
“He does not believe FDA has a role in evaluating the cost or price of a medical product. Dr. Califf is supportive of increasing competition in the marketplace to help lower the cost of drugs, including through more generic and biosimilar products.
“He supports clarifying the diagnostic test regulatory landscape with a law that encourages innovation and provides a clear and predictable pathway to market for diagnostic tests.
“I believe Dr. Califf will build on the successful lessons learned and progress made during the pandemic response over the last 2 years, and that he will continue to uphold FDA’s gold standard.
“I’m pleased to be able to support his nomination.
“I look forward to working with him as the next FDA Commissioner and I urge my colleagues to vote yes on his nomination.”