Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said during the weekend that President Joe Biden should withdraw David Chipman's nomination to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
In calling for the nomination to be pulled, McConnell cited ATF sources who alleged Chipman made racially discriminatory comments while working at the agency. The leader also said Chipman failed to disclose a 2012 appearance on a government-run Chinese television network while working as a special agent at ATF, The Epoch Times reported.
"This wasn’t just any TV appearance. Mr. Chipman had granted an interview to a propaganda network overseen by the Chinese government," McConnell said Saturday from the Senate floor.
"The Senate has spent quite enough time flirting with this profoundly misguided nomination. The American people deserve a trustworthy steward leading the ATF with a record of respecting their rights and respecting his or her colleagues. It is long past time the Biden administration revisits this decision and sends us somebody who fits that description."
Chipman's nomination has failed to go through the Senate not only because Republicans have appeared unanimous in their opposition, but also due to some Democrats withholding support. They include Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Angus King, I-Maine.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki last week said the administration "knew this wouldn’t be easy," in part because the ATF has not had a Senate-confirmed director in six years.
"We’ve been eyes wide open into the challenge from the beginning," Psaki said, "but we are disappointed by the fact that many Republicans are moving in lockstep to try to hold up his nomination and handcuff the chief federal law enforcement agency tasked with fighting gun crimes.
"It speaks volumes to their complete refusal to tackle the spike in crime we’ve seen over the last 18 months. This is someone who has 25 years of distinguished service to our country as an ATF agent. He has the exact set of skills and experience we need to revitalize the bureau’s work to crack down on gun trafficking, keep guns out of the hands of criminals. So certainly, yes, we stand by his strong qualifications and nomination."
Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told Republican committee members last week that he would not hold a second hearing on Chipman’s nomination.
"The Committee will not hold a second hearing on Mr. Chipman's nomination based on baseless allegations by anonymous sources published in venues with an obvious agenda," said Durbin, referring to a report in The Reload that anonymously cited current and former ATF agents mentioning the existence of an ATF report about Chipman's alleged racist remarks.
"ATF needs a Senate-confirmed leader, and Mr. Chipman is well-qualified and has been extensively vetted for the role. He deserves to be confirmed. And it is my fervent hope that Committee Republicans will quit embracing anonymously-sourced efforts to smear Mr. Chipman."
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