By Steve Usdin
Contributing Editor

WASHINGTON - Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) is blocking a Senate vote on the confirmation of Jane Henney, the Clinton administration's nominee for commissioner of the FDA. Under Senate rules, a single lawmaker can impose a so-called "block" on a nomination, preventing the larger body from taking a confirmation vote.

Brook Simmons, spokesperson for the lawmaker, said that Nickles is concerned that Henney has a "propensity to legislate by regulation." No other senators have publicly opposed the nomination and Simmons did not say whether Nickles will allow the confirmation to proceed in the next session of Congress.

The delay comes despite a letter sent last week to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) by former secretaries of Health and Human Services who served in the Reagan, Bush and Carter administrations, who urged rapid confirmation of Henney.

FDA focused on November 21

FDA has been struggling for almost a year to issue the scores of new rules, guidance documents and reports mandated by the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act (FDAMA). Last week, senior agency officials boasted of their progress in implementing FDAMA and complained that Congress has