The Senate is waiting for Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampWashington's oldest contact sport: Lobbyists scrum to dilute or kill Democrats' tax bill Progressives prepare to launch counterattack in tax fight Business groups aim to divide Democrats on .5T spending bill MORE (D-N.D.) to cast the deciding vote on whether to end debate on President Obama’s nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The Senate started the cloture vote on Todd Jones’ nomination at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. The current vote count stands at 59-40, one vote short of the 60 votes needed to advance the nominee.
Six Republicans have voted with Democrats to end debate. After more than 30 minutes of pushing from colleagues, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDo progressives prefer Trump to compromise? This week: Democrats hit make-or-break moment for Biden GOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff MORE (R-Alaska) switched her vote and joined GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDo progressives prefer Trump to compromise? Looking to the past to secure America's clean energy future Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid MORE (Maine), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyottePoll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal Sununu seen as top recruit in GOP bid to reclaim Senate MORE (N.H.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump-backed challenger to Cheney decried him as 'racist,' 'xenophobic' in 2016: report State Department spokesperson tests positive for COVID-19 The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers fret over wild week of deadlines MORE (S.C.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWhoopi Goldberg signs four-year deal with ABC to stay on 'The View' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Meghan McCain: Country has not 'healed' from Trump under Biden MORE (Ariz.) and Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (Ill.) in voting to advance Jones' nominations.
Heitkamp has missed all of the votes this week because she’s been back in her home state. A spokesperson for Heitkamp said the senator is on her way to Washington and would cast a “yes” vote.
“Sen. Heitkamp is currently on her way to Washington from North Dakota,” the spokesperson said. “If the vote is held open, she would like to be able to cast her vote.”
After cloture is invoked, the Senate is expected to proceed to a final confirmation vote on Jones' around 7 p.m.
Earlier this month, the Senate Judiciary Committee cleared Jones’ nomination on a party line 10-8 vote.
The bureau hasn’t had a leader for seven years. Democrats have complained that Republicans have opposed ATF directors because of opposition from the National Rifle Association.
Ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley announces reelection bid The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B MORE (R-Iowa) said he wouldn’t support Jones’ 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.”