Action on Jane Henney’s nomination as head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been delayed by Senate majority Whip Don Nickles, R-Okla. Nickles cited concern over Henney’s stance on abortion and tobacco issues as reasons for his action.
Nickles is opposed to FDA approval of mifepristone (formerly known as RU 486) which is a safe, effective method of early abortion, and regulation of tobacco within the country.
In 71 pages of answers to senators’ questions, Henney wrote that “if confirmed, I will abide by final judicial or congressional action with respect to FDA’s jurisdiction over tobacco products.”
The topic of abortion was discussed at length in Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee hearings, after which the panel decided to vote overwhelmingly in favor of Henney’s nomination.
Nickles’ action was criticized by Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala. “Every single candidate the president sends up supports his positions on a wide variety of issues,” she said. Henney, she believes, “Is eminently qualified for the position.”
Henney has also been endorsed by the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association, patient groups, and numerous private companies. “There is absolutely no basis for their refusal to allow a vote,” said Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-NM.