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WASHINGTON — Ask some key public health officials, and they’ll warn you that next year, President-elect Biden’s public health agenda could face a formidable roadblock: an empowered Sen. Richard Burr, the North Carolina Republican with a long history of antagonizing the Food and Drug Administration and other key agencies.

Ask others, and they’ll insist that an empowered Burr is the best Republican possible for a top role in U.S. public health policy.


Burr is in line to become chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, one of the chamber’s key health policy panels, if Republicans hold onto their Senate majority after runoff races in Georgia. If they do not, he is still likely to wield some power as the panel’s ranking member.

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