Senate approves Biden’s last unconfirmed Cabinet member

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The Senate on Friday confirmed by voice vote Eric Lander to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), rounding out President Biden’s Cabinet. 

Lander, who will serve as Biden’s top scientist, is the first person to hold the role since the president made it a Cabinet-level position. 

Before Friday, Lander was the only unconfirmed member of the Cabinet, though Biden has not yet named a head to the Office of Management and Budget. (OMB).

FILE – In this Jan. 16, 2021 file photo, Eric Lander speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The OSTP is tasked with advising on the “scientific, engineering, and technological aspects” of other policy issues, and recommending research and development budget to the OMB.

A top geneticist and director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Lander faced criticisms over two meetings he had with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The meetings were cause for delay in his confirmation, Politico reported. 

Lander said in his confirmation hearing he did not know of Epstein’s “sordid history” upon meeting the wealthy financier, and once he learned about it “had nothing to do with him thereafter.” He said his only interactions with Epstein were at “two brief events” within a span of three weeks in 2012. 

Lander also took heat for allegations that he downplayed the contributions of two female Nobel Prize-winning scientists to the CRISPR gene-editing technology in a 2016 paper. 

“I made a mistake,” Lander previously told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. 

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