Senate postpones vote on Crawford’s nomination to head FDA

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Senate leaders have postponed a vote on President Bush's nomination of Lester Crawford to head the FDA pending an investigation into "issues that have been raised" concerning the agency's current acting commissioner.
On Wednesday Senator Michael Enzi, Republican of Wyoming, announced that the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee needed "more time to address the issues that have been raised on both sides of the aisle."   
Among the causes for concern was a statement made by Craig Orfield, a spokesman for the Senate committee's Republicans in an Associated Press report.
Orfield said that Enzi had requested the Office of Internal Affairs at the agency to "open an investigation into allegations concerning Dr. Crawford made by an anonymous FDA employee."
According to a report in the New York Times, Orfield declined to elaborate on the subject and could not be reached for further comment since making the statement.
"It smells like an internal smear campaign by someone who sees Crawford as a political target," said John Kamp, executive director for the Coalition for Healthcare Communication.
Last week, Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray placed a hold on Crawford's nomination to protest what they called the agency's slow progress in approving over-the-counter sales of Barr's emergency contraceptive Plan B.
Crawford has been the FDA's acting commissioner for over a year, and until last week, his confirmation hearings were expected to proceed without incident.
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