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WASHINGTON — In a dramatically close procedural vote Monday night, the Senate voted 49-45 to advance Robert Califf’s nomination to lead the Food and Drug Administration, virtually guaranteeing he will soon be confirmed as its commissioner.

The Senate vote technically only limited debate on Califf’s confirmation; lawmakers will have to hold another formal floor vote on Califf’s confirmation before he assumes the agency’s top job. That vote is expected later this week. But the procedural vote, known as a cloture vote, generally signals how lawmakers will vote on the nomination itself.

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