GOP opposition threatens to sink Trump's ATF pick

GOP opposition threatens to sink Trump's ATF pick
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally MORE's pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is on life support amid opposition from Republican senators. 

Kenneth Charles "Chuck" Canterbury is getting pushback from multiple Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which canceled a Thursday business meeting where his nomination was scheduled to get a vote. 

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Sens. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) and Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyRenewed focus on Trump's Supreme Court list after Ginsburg's death What Facebook's planned change to its terms of service means for the Section 230 debate Republican Senators raise concerns over Oracle-TikTok deal MORE (R-Mo.) both told The Hill on Thursday that they would not support Canterbury if his nomination is brought up for a vote in the committee. 

"I think we can do better, no disrespect," Kennedy said of why he was opposed to Trump's pick. 

Hawley pointed to Canterbury's stance on the Second Amendment, calling it "really, really concerning." 

"I just think that his record on the Second Amendment is really, really concerning. ... I asked him specifically about the rulemaking authority of the ATF and he didn't seem familiar with that at all. So I think all of that's really, really concerning," Hawley said. 

Canterbury, who was previously president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, rankled senators during his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year by dodging their questions or giving vague answers when it came to his views on firearms. 

A spokesman for Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeMcConnell shores up GOP support for coronavirus package McConnell tries to unify GOP Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump MORE (Utah), a member of the committee, said the GOP senator supported the decision to delay a committee vote on Canterbury. 

“Sen. Lee has concerns about Canterbury's Second Amendment views and is pleased the markup has been delayed," said Conn Carroll.

Asked if he could support Canterbury, a spokesman for Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseChamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection Ben Sasse is mistaken with idea for the election of senators in America Big Ten football to return in October MORE (R-Neb.) noted that the senator "had expressed numerous concerns about his view of the Second Amendment." 

Republicans hold a 12-10 majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Without help from Democrats Canterbury would not have the support to clear the panel. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Video of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral Warning signs flash for Lindsey Graham in South Carolina MORE (R-S.C.) demurred when asked by The Hill on Thursday about whether or not he was still planning to give Canterbury a vote. 

"We're going to talk about that and see where the committee is on that, and I'll let you know when we get back," he said, referring to the Senate's upcoming two-week recess. 

Asked if he had Republican senators expressing concerns about the nomination, he added "yeah, yeah." 

A Senate GOP aide noted that it remained to be seen if Canterbury's nomination would be withdrawn or delayed indefinitely, but that he didn't currently have sufficient support to clear the committee. 

Spokespeople for the White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about if there had been any discussion on withdrawing the nomination. 

But Hawley suggested that it might not come up for a vote. 

"I don't know that I'm going to have to make that decision, let's put it that way," he said. "But if we did vote on him I would be a no." 

Jesse Byrnes contributed