Democrat West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has been one of the main thorns in the side of President Joe Biden and he is at it again.
In a 50/50 Senate Manchin’s vote is a key vote as, if Republicans stick together and vote no, his vote would mean it is impossible for a Biden nominee to be confirmed.
In this case, the West Virginia senator has said he will vote “no” on Dr. Robert Califf’s nomination to lead the Food and Drug Administration, CNN reported.
But five Republicans joined with Democrats to block a filibuster on his nomination which means a vote by the entire Senate could come later this week.
“I will vote no on Dr. Califf’s nomination, and I have never been more profoundly confident of a vote I’m going to cast than I am right now,” the West Virginia senator said in a speech as he asked his fellow senators to “send a message to this administration, to our President, that we need a new direction at the FDA.”
“Dr. Califf has shown us who he is, and he has shown a complete lack of interest in actually making the difficult decisions that we need the leader of the FDA to make,” he said. “Nothing that Dr. Califf has said or done has led me to believe he will operate the FDA any differently than he did during his previous tenure.”
Califf, a longtime cardiologist, was last confirmed to run the sprawling agency during President Barack Obama’s final year in office by an 89-4 vote. Prior to running the agency, Califf served as the FDA’s deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco. He was a professor of medicine and a vice chancellor for clinical and translational research at Duke University before joining the FDA. He was also the director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute and is the founding director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute.
During his last confirmation process, Califf faced stiff opposition from multiple Democrats, including Manchin, who criticized his ties to the pharmaceutical industry.
In November, when the nomination was announced, Sen. Manchin said that he was against him.
“Dr. Califf’s nomination makes no sense as the opioid epidemic continues to wreak havoc on families across this country with no end in sight. 2020 was the deadliest year on record for drug-related overdose deaths with 1,386 West Virginians and nearly 95,000 Americans dying from a drug-related overdose. I have made it abundantly clear that correcting the culture at the FDA is critical to changing the tide of the opioid epidemic,” he said.
“Instead, Dr. Califf’s nomination and his significant ties to the pharmaceutical industry take us backward not forward. His nomination is an insult to the many families and individuals who have had their lives changed forever as a result of addiction. I could not support Dr. Califf’s nomination in 2016 and I cannot support it now. I urge the Administration to nominate an FDA Commissioner that understands the gravity of the prescription drug epidemic and the role of the FDA in fighting back against the greed of the pharmaceutical industry. Championing the needs of our nation’s public health must be their number one priority,” he said.
It comes a week after the senator made it known that Biden’s Build Back Better agenda was dead.
CNN reporter Manu Raju took to Twitter to report that Manchin was asked whether he supports Build Back Better, which Biden’s roughly $2 trillion healthcare, education, and climate package.
“What Build Back Better bill? I don’t know what you guys are talking about,” Raju said he asked Manchin if he had had any talks on the matter since December and Manchin answered, “No, no, no, no. It’s dead.”