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 TrumpTrump says he will 'temporarily hold off' on declaring Mexican drug cartels as terror organization House Judiciary Committee formally receives impeachment report Artist behind gold toilet offered to Trump sells banana duct-taped to a wall for 0,000 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 HawleyTikTok's leader to meet with lawmakers next week Overnight Defense: Trump leaves door open to possible troop increase in Middle East | Putin offers immediate extension of key nuclear treaty Trade deal talks expand as Congress debates tech legal shield 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 LeeHillicon Valley: Pelosi works to remove legal protections for tech companies from USMCA | Treasury sanctions Russian group over 0 million hack | Facebook sues Chinese individuals for ad fraud | Huawei takes legal action against FCC Senators defend bipartisan bill on facial recognition as cities crack down Trump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans 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 SasseFCC votes to bar use of its funds to purchase Huawei, ZTE equipment Senate approves stopgap bill to prevent shutdown Trump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition 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 GrahamGOP senators request interview with former DNC contractor to probe possible Ukraine ties GOP senator blocks Armenian genocide resolution Hannity slams Stern for Clinton interview: 'Not the guy I grew up listening to' 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