Biden’s guns nominee gets backing from Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is throwing his support behind President Biden’s nominee to head up a key agency tasked with reducing gun violence that has gone years without a confirmed leader.
Manchin told reporters on Thursday that he’d back Steve Dettelbach, Biden’s pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), after meeting with the nominee earlier this week.
The key centrist expressed confidence the nominee would “do a good job” if confirmed, while acknowledging the agency hasn’t had a confirmed head “for quite some time.”
The Senate hasn’t confirmed a permanent leader of the agency since 2013, when former President Obama held office. Previous nominations by Biden and former President Trump were withdrawn due to political opposition and amid lobbying efforts by gun groups.
Biden nominated Dettelbach for the post in early April, months after the White House withdrew a previous nomination for David Chipman, a former ATF agent, following opposition from Republicans and gun rights groups.
Chipman’s nomination had also drawn pushback from Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who caucuses with Democrats. Manchin and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) had also previously been hesitant to back Chipman.
However, Dettelbach’s nomination has already drawn support from King. Tester said last month he’d planned to meet with Dettelbach but that the nominee didn’t have “any red flags yet.”
Dettelbach previously served as federal attorney in Ohio and helped lead white-collar investigations at the BakerHostetler law firm.
Gary Restaino, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona, is serving as acting head of the agency.