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On the Hill: Califf Confirmed as FDA Commissioner

The Senate on Tuesday voted 50–46 to confirm Robert Califf, MD, as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has not had a confirmed commissioner for more than a year.

The vote comes after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Feb. 10 filed cloture on Califf’s nomination. Earlier this year, Califf’s nomination was met with resistance from some Democratic senators who believed he is too close to the pharmaceutical industry or who had ongoing concerns about the agency’s regulation of prescription opioids.

Continued Work to Avert Government Shutdown

Meanwhile, the Senate continues efforts to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded past Feb. 18, when current funding is set to expire. Last week, chief bipartisan appropriators in the House and Senate reached an agreement on topline spending numbers for fiscal year (FY) 2022. Committees now can finalize details of 12 appropriations bills, with the CR giving lawmakers a few more weeks to develop and pass bipartisan legislation and avert a government shutdown.

The House last week passed a CR to fund the government through March 11. The Senate aims to pass the bill this week, but challenges remain. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) last week delayed progress on a CR vote over reports that grant funding for a federal FY 2022 Harm Reduction Program could be used to supply drug paraphernalia. The administration denied the reports, stating funds could not be used in this manner.

Congressional Hearings on Workforce, Mental Health

This week the Senate is in session. The House is scheduled for a week of “Committee Work” this week but not scheduled to return to DC for votes before Feb. 28.

On Tuesday, Feb. 15, The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will convene Feb. 15 for a hearing on workforce development and barriers to employment.

The same day, the Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing examining youth mental health. This hearing is the second in a series of hearings regarding youth mental health.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a Feb. 17 hearing on responding to the national mental health crisis.

Register Now: Spring Policy Assembly

America’s Essential Hospitals invites you to join us online for our spring Policy Assembly, March 15–16. Attendees will learn about current legislation, hear a 2022 midterm election preview, and review the outlook for essential hospital advocacy priorities. Register today!


About the Author

Christina Fagnano is the legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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