White House withdraws David Chipman’s nomination for ATF leadership

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White House withdraws David Chipman’s nomination for ATF leadership

The Biden administration will on Thursday withdraw the nomination of David Chipman, a former federal agent who promised to crack down on the use of semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity gun magazines to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Five people are aware of the situation.

The return comes as a major blow to President Biden’s plan to reduce gun violence after multiple mass shootings this year, and after his push to expand background checks on gun purchases stalled in Congress due to unified Republican protests. Comes.

The selection of Mr. Chipman, a longtime ATF officer who served as an adviser to a gun safety group founded by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, provoked a powerful backlash from the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun organizations, who rejected his confirmation. posed as a threat. for their Second Amendment rights.

Mr Biden, who elected Mr Chipman after receiving pressure from Ms Giffords and other gun control supporters, needed the support of all 50 senators who caucuses with Democrats and Vice President Kamala Harris to confirm Chipman. Tiebreaking vote is required.

In recent weeks, Senator Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, told officials in the Biden administration and leadership that he could not support the nomination, following Mr Chipman’s candid public statements about gun owners. Referring to the situation, people familiar with the situation said.

During a controversial confirmation hearing in May, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee captured those comments – including an interview in which Mr. Chipman compared weapons purchases during the pandemic to a zombie apocalypse.

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Senator Joe Manchin III, a Democrat from West Virginia who originally suggested he was open to the pick, eventually turned sour on the selection as well.

Mr. Chipman’s nomination was in an impasse in committee, but was communicated to the Senate for a floor vote through a parliamentary maneuver. Never found it.

It is Mr Biden’s second high-profile nomination to be withdrawn due to a lack of Democratic support. In March, Neera Tandon, her choice to head the budget office, walked out of contention after an uproar over her caustic public statements. He was later appointed as Policy Advisor in the West Wing.

As hopes for Mr Chipman’s confirmation dwindled this summer, White House officials began discussing bringing him into the administration as an adviser, but no decision was made. According to a person involved in the process, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the administration has no immediate plans to appoint a new nominee.

As recently as last month, the White House indicated it stands by its nominee, praising Mr. Chipman’s 25 years of experience as an ATF agent, but at the same time struggling hard to obtain confirmation. accepts. White House officials, ignoring protests from members of the Democratic caucus, placed the blame entirely on Republican lawmakers.

“We are disappointed by the fact that many Republicans are trying to withhold their nomination and handcuff the main federal law enforcement agency fighting gun crimes,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in August. ” “It speaks volumes for their complete refusal to deal with the spike in crime we’ve seen over the past 18 months.”

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The withdrawal was first reported by The Washington Post.

In the 48 years since its mission shifted primarily to firearms enforcement, the ATF has been weakened by the NRA’s relentless attacks, which critics have argued have been engineered to fail.

Fifteen years ago, the NRA successfully lobbied to make the appointment of directors subject to Senate confirmation—and subsequently helped prevent everyone from taking office—one nominee.

and at the behest of the NRA, Congress has limited the budget of the bureau; impose severe restrictions on the collection and use of gun-ownership data, including a ban on requiring a basic inventory of weapons from gun dealers; and limited unannounced inspections of gun dealers.

Annie Karnik Contributed to reporting.

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