The Senate voted 53-42 Wednesday to confirm the nomination of B. Todd Jones to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The vote came after nearly five hours of delay. Democratic Sen. Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampBusiness groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Sanders supporter to run against red-state Democrat GOP lays out regulatory reform wish list MORE had to fly back from her home state of North Dakota at the last minute after Democrats came up one vote short of ending debate on the nomination.
Six Republicans voted with Democrats to end debate in a 60-40 vote. Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiTrump’s Army pick faces tough confirmation fight Republican Sen. Collins considering run for Maine governor in 2018 Alaska senators push bill to allow Arctic drilling MORE (R-Alaska) switched her vote to advance Jones’s nomination after her colleagues pressured her on the Senate floor. She joined GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsCollins: I'm not working with Freedom Caucus chairman on healthcare Mexico: Recent deportations 'a violation' of US immigration rules White House denies misleading public in aircraft carrier mix-up MORE (Maine), Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteHow Gorsuch's confirmation shapes the next Supreme Court battle THE MEMO: Trump set to notch needed win with Gorsuch Gorsuch sherpa: Dems giving GOP ‘no choice’ on nuclear option MORE (N.H.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamRussian interference looms over European elections Graham: I’m ‘all in’ for Trump Graham: US on a collision course with North Korea MORE (S.C.), John McCainJohn McCainWeek ahead: Pentagon funding in the balance as deadline looms Kasich: 'I think political parties are on their way out' Five fights for Trump’s first year MORE (Ariz.) and Mark KirkMark KirkThe way forward on the Iran nuclear deal under President Trump ObamaCare repeal bill would defund Planned Parenthood Leaked ObamaCare bill would defund Planned Parenthood MORE (Ill.).
Ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyTrump eyeing second Supreme Court seat Grassley: Another Supreme Court vacancy likely this summer Sweeping change at DOJ under Sessions MORE (R-Iowa) said he wouldn’t support Jones’s nomination because he is accused of “retaliating against a whistle-blower.”
“The Senate should not be voting on a nomination when there is an open investigation,” Grassley said ahead of the vote. “To be honest, we don’t know the full story, but there is an open investigation of serious accusations on retaliation against whistle-blower activity. ... These are serious charges.”
Grassley said promoting Jones would not help restore public confidence in the bureau after the “botched” “Fast and Furious” gun-walking operation.
The ATF hasn’t had a leader for seven years. Democrats have complained that Republicans have opposed directors for the bureaubecause of the National Rifle Association’s powerful lobby.
Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharWyden pushing to mandate 'basic cybersecurity' for Senate Senators press the FCC on rural broadband affordability Senators should stop trying to turn the Supreme Court into reality TV MORE (D-Minn.), who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the agency “deserves” a leader.
“There are 24,000 ATF agents and they have gone without a leader for seven years, since it became an appointment position,” Klobuchar said. “It is simply time to change that.”
Jones has served as the Minnesota U.S. attorney and acting director of ATF.
Earlier this month, the Senate Judiciary Committee cleared his nomination on a party-line, 10-8 vote.
— Updated at 8:42 p.m.