White House withdraws ATF nominee after GOP pushback

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The White House on Tuesday formally withdrew Chuck Canterbury’s nomination to lead the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). 

The Trump administration sent notice to Congress that it is pulling the nomination, which has been stuck in limbo since September amid opposition from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Canterbury was nominated for the top ATF position in June and had a hearing before the Judiciary Committee in July, but senators appeared rankled over his answers when they tried to press him on his view on firearms. Canterbury was renominated for the post in mid-February but never received a committee vote. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told The Hill last year that the nomination was “going to be very problematic.”

Pressed at the time if the White House should withdraw the nomination, Graham deferred to the administration but reiterated that Canterbury’s nomination was a “problem.”

GOP Sens. John Kennedy (La.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) both told The Hill at the time that they would not support Canterbury if his nomination was brought up for a vote in the committee. 

Spokespeople for Sens. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) also said at the time that they both had “concerns” about Canterbury, pointing toward his views on the Second Amendment. 

Republicans hold a 12-10 majority on the Judiciary panel, meaning Canterbury could only lose one GOP vote before he would have needed support from Democrats to get his nomination sent to the Senate floor.

Tags ATF Ben Sasse Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Chuck Canterbury John Kennedy Josh Hawley Lindsey Graham Mike Lee

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