McConnell urges Biden to withdraw embattled ATF nominee

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Saturday urged the White House to withdraw President Biden’s pick of David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), a nomination that has been stuck in limbo for weeks.

“The Senate has spent quite enough time flirting with this profoundly misguided nomination. The American people deserve a trustworthy steward leading the ATF. … It is time the Biden administration revisit this decision and send us somebody who fits that description,” McConnell said. 

The GOP leader’s push comes as Republicans have been deeply critical of Chipman over his ties to the gun control advocacy group Giffords and say that he is too extreme to run a federal agency tasked with enforcing certain gun laws.

McConnell, in a floor speech late last month, urged opposition to Chipman’s nomination, saying, “There is no way this nominee is the best the Biden administration can do.”

Democrats could confirm Chipman on their own if all members of their caucus backed his nomination. But so far, several moderates haven’t said if they will support Chipman, including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Angus King (I-Maine).

Democratic leaders have been in conversations with the key undecided votes as they try to figure out the path forward on Chipman’s nomination. They’ve declined to say when they will call up his nomination.

But the Senate is poised to leave in a matter of days for a weeks-long break, which would punt action on Chipman’s nomination until mid-September. The Senate will return to a packed schedule that includes fights over funding the government, the debt ceiling and Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending plan.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said earlier this week that he was still trying to lock down support for the nomination among Democrats.

“We’re working on it,” he said when asked if Democrats had the votes.

Tags Angus King Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives David Chipman Dick Durbin Joe Biden Joe Manchin Jon Tester Kyrsten Sinema Mitch McConnell

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