Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocks on Biden pick to lead ATF

Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocks on Biden pick to lead ATF

The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked Thursday in its nomination vote for Steve Dettelbach, President Joe Biden’s pick to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The tie committee vote means that Democrats will have to use an additional procedural maneuver to put Dettelbach’s nomination on the Senate floor. That vote is set for Thursday afternoon.

If Dettelbach is confirmed, it will mark the first time since 2015 that the ATF will have a Senate-confirmed leader.

Having secured the support of moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Jon Tester, of West Virginia and Montana respectively, as well as Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democarats, Dettelbach likely has the Democratic votes he needs to be confirmed on the Senate floor.

Judiciary Committee Democrats expressed frustration Thursday that Dettelbach did not received any Republican support in the committee, particularly given the ongoing bipartisan discussions on a gun safety package in the wake of several mass shootings.

The partisan committee vote “impedes our progress” on addressing gun violence, said Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware.

Biden’s previous choice to lead the ATF, David Chipman, was withdrawn last September as he faced opposition not just from Republicans but some moderate Democrats and independents.

Dettelbach is a former federal prosecutor whose nomination to US attorney for the Northern District of Ohio under President Barack Obama was approved unanimously by the Senate.

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