President Joe Biden has frequently spoken in grave terms about the threat that COVID-19’s delta variant poses to Americans. Yet despite the harsh rhetoric, Biden is seemingly taking his sweet time regarding the appointment of what would seem to be right now a critical government position.
As The Hill reported, Biden has yet to nominate an official to lead the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and that has Democrats feeling uneasy, given that the agency will soon be in the spotlight if and when it announces its first approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, which could happen soon.
Reportedly, some Democratic senators aren’t comfortable with the idea of acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock permanently taking on the job.
Democrats speak out
New Hampshire state Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) is among those expressing reservations over Woodcock’s ability to take the job, pointing to her history at the FDA regarding the labeling of opioid painkillers.
“I continue to have concerns about Dr. Woodcock as a potential permanent FDA Commissioner, especially given the role she played in approving and labeling opioid-based medications,” the New Hampshire Dem explained.
“That’s why I’ve called on President Biden to put forward an FDA commissioner who will act independently from the industry that he or she regulates,” Hassan added.
The fact that Biden hasn’t filled the role shouldn’t come as a surprise, as he’s trailing his predecessors in the number of appointments and confirmations he’s made during his first year in office, as Fox News reported.
When asked by The Hill if Biden considers appointing a new FDA commissioner to be a top priority given the number of new COVID-19 delta variant cases, a White House official indicated that the president simply wants to find the perfect candidate.
“The role of FDA commissioner is critically important, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the unnamed official reportedly said.
The anonymous official added: “We have strong acting leadership in place that is playing an important role in our COVID-19 response and beyond, and look forward to sharing a nominee with the requisite expertise and leadership for this job.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had little to say on the matter other than that Biden “has not identified the right person to nominate quite yet.”
“Obviously, the president would love to have a permanent pick in place and wants to nominate the right person, but I don’t have an update on the timeline for that,” Psaki added.