Senate Commerce panel advances Biden’s top science nominee

The Senate Commerce Committee voted Thursday to advance President Biden’s nominee to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Five Republicans — Sens. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wisc.) and Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) — voted against advancing Eric Lander’s nomination. All Democrats voted in favor.

Lander will be the first person at the position since Biden elevated it to Cabinet level, and he is the only member of Biden’s Cabinet yet to be confirmed.

Lander faced pushback during his nomination hearing over allegations of downplaying the contributions of two female scientists, as well as over two meetings he had in the past with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.