Key Senate Democrats undecided on Biden’s ATF nominee
Key Senate Democratic senators say they are undecided on supporting David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee to be the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
With no Republicans saying yet that they will support Chipman — and Democrats skeptical they’ll pick up any GOP votes — Democrats are likely to need all 50 members of their caucus to support his nomination and Vice President Kamala Harris to break a tie in order for him to get confirmed.
Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), two red state Democrats, both said on Tuesday that they haven’t yet made a decision on if they will supper him.
“We’re still working on that,” Manchin said.
Tester added that he hasn’t “made a determination yet.”
Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), whose office notes she typically doesn’t announce nomination votes in advance, and Angus King (I-Maine) also haven’t said if they will support Chipman.
Pro-gun groups have launched an intense effort to try to sink Chipman’s nomination over his support for stricter gun laws and previous work as a policy adviser for Giffords, a gun control group.
Chipman has been meeting with senators to try to address concerns and Democratic leaders have been weighing support within the caucus as they try to shore up his nomination.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) hasn’t said when he’ll bring Chipman up for a vote but Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), his No. 2 and the Judiciary Committee chairman, said he’s talking with undecided senators.
“We’re whipping it. We’re eyeballing,” Durbin said about the conversations within the Democratic caucus.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a vocal supporter of tighter gun laws, predicted that Chipman would ultimately get confirmed.
“I’m confident that he’s going to get confirmed. I think he still needs to answer some question and concerns but I’m confident that he’s going to have 50 votes on the floor,” Murphy said. “This is a mainstream nominee.”