WASHINGTON — President Clinton's nominee to head the FDA, Jane Henney, received the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee's endorsement in a voice vote Wednesday.

Henney, vice president for health sciences at the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque, will become the first woman to run the agency if she wins final confirmation from the full Senate. No date has been set for that vote.

The approval comes as no surprise, following a Sept. 2 confirmation hearing in which committee members politely asked the nominee to affirm her commitment to implementing the FDA Modernization Act of 1997. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 3, 1998, p. 1.)

But objections to Henney's nomination could result in floor debate, which would then force the confirmation vote to vie for time on the Senate's packed calendar with critical appropriations legislation and other activities. During the confirmation hearing, several members tried to elicit Henney's opinion on approving the abortifacient RU-486, an issue which could serve as the "hot button" that brings her nomination to the floor for debate. — Lisa Seachrist