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Biden’s ATF Nominee Is Three Votes Away from Getting Confirmed

Former ATF Agent David Chipman, via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling

The confirmation of David Chipman, President Biden’s pick to lead the ATF, appears to rest in the hands of two Democrats and an independent in the U.S. Senate. 

All 50 Republican oppose Chipman’s confirmation, so it will take the support of the remaining senators to approve his appointment. 

The holdouts are Democrats Sens. Joe Manchin, W.V., and Jon Tester, Montana, along with independent Sen. Angus King, of Maine, The USA Today reports.

“As a proud gun owner, Senator Tester believes ATF needs a strong leader to support the agency’s law enforcement mission,” a spokesperson for Tester said in a statement to The Hill. “Senator Tester will continue to review David Chipman’s record and testimony to ensure he would support our brave law enforcement officers and respect Montanans’ Second Amendment rights.”

King “continues to review the nomination,” a spokesperson said. 

Chipman’s confirmation is controversial among conservatives because he has advocated for firearm restrictions, including a ban on assault weapons, such as AR-15s. The National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sports Foundation have joined in the fight with more than $4 million in radio and TV ads in the home states of moderate Democrats and King. 

Chipman is a gun owner and former ATF agent

The ATF has been without a Senate-confirmed director since 2015. 

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged that Chipman’s nomination “wouldn’t be easy.” 

“We’ve been eyes wide open into the challenge from the beginning,” she said.

Psaki added, “We are disappointed by the fact that many Republicans are moving in lockstep to try to hold up his nomination and handcuff the chief federal law enforcement agency tasked with fighting gun crimes.”

Chipman’s nomination advanced from the Senate Judiciary Committee after a 10-10 vote last month. But since then, Democrats have not scheduled a confirmation vote because they’re not sure if he has enough support. 


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