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Biden’s Nominee to Head ATF Advances After Split Senate Panel Vote

Former ATF Agent David Chipman, via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday was deadlocked on whether to advance the nomination of David Chipman, President Biden’s pick to lead the ATF. 

With a 10-10 vote, the committee was split along party lines. But in the event of a tie, the nomination still moves to the floor. 

Republicans are expected to continue opposing the nomination of Chipman, who has advocated for firearm restrictions, including a ban on assault weapons such as AR-15s. 

“David Chipman is a partisan gun control zealot who is advocating for restricting Americans’ Second Amendment rights in calling for a ban on the most popular rifle in America – to include those already in our homes,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a statement.

Chipman is a gun owner and former ATF agent. 

In April, the NRA announced its plans to oppose Chipman’s nomination as part of a $2 million campaign to fight gun-control measures.

Biden has faced pressure by gun control groups to pick someone to head the ATF, which has been without a permanent director since 2015 as the nation continues to grapple with mass shootings. 

As vice president, Biden recommended in 2013 that President Obama pick a Senate-confirmed ATF director. Obama followed through with the confirmation of B. Todd Jones in 2013, but Jones resigned in 2015, and the agency has been without a permanent director since. 

Whether Biden can muster the 51 votes required to confirm a permanent leader is an open question. Republicans have blocked ATF candidates who were far friendlier to the pro-gun base. 


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