Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has declared his opposition to President Joe Biden's selection of Dr. Robert Califf to serve as commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
In a statement announcing his pick, the president urged the Senate to confirm Califf to the post.
"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," President Biden said in the statement.
"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. I am confident Dr. Califf will ensure that the FDA continues its science and data driven decision-making. 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 previously served as FDA commissioner during the end of the Obama administration — back in 2016 the Senate overwhelmingly confirmed him by a vote of 89-4.
But Manchin said that he did not back Califf's nomination in 2016 and he will not do so now.
"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," Manchin said. "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. Instead, Dr. Califf's nomination and his significant ties to the pharmaceutical industry take us backwards 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," the senator said in the statement.
Earlier this week, Manchin sounded the alarm about the financial pain Americans are experiencing amid rampant inflation.
"By all accounts, the threat posed by record inflation to the American people is not 'transitory' and is instead getting worse. From the grocery store to the gas pump, Americans know the inflation tax is real and DC can no longer ignore the economic pain Americans feel every day," Manchin tweeted.
The senator has been a persistent roadblock as members of his party have sought to ram though a massive spending plan. Manchin has said that he will not "support a package that risks hurting American families suffering from historic inflation."