New York Times Says Lester Crawford is Thompson’s Choice for FDA Commissioner
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson is seeking support on Capitol Hill for food safety expert Dr. Lester Crawford to become FDA commissioner, though he has not publicly announced Crawford as his choice, the New York Times reports. The Times, which cites the information to "people familiar with the selection process," adds that the White House has not yet approved Crawford as its nominee for the position. Crawford is currently the director of the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy, which is affiliated with Virginia Tech. Last week in a speech to the National Association of Manufacturers, Thompson said his choice was a scientist "with a great reputation," whom the White House was "vetting." During his remarks, Thompson also said that Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), respectively the chair and ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, were "enthusiastic and supportive" of his choice. Thompson added that all that remains for Crawford to be nominated is an announcement by President Bush and an FBI background check. "[W]e're confident we'll get it done as quickly as we possibly can," Thompson said. The Times notes that in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, "some say it has become especially important to fill" the top job at the FDA, which would be closely involved in efforts to increase vaccine production as protection against bioterrorism. However, the Times reports that any background check may take time, since the FBI is currently focusing on its investigation into the attacks (Stolberg, New York Times, 10/3).