A formal head for the agency is a LONG Time coming……
The Republicans have been holding it up since the ‘Fast and Furious’ ATF ‘buy and bust’ operation went bad….
Harry Reid seems to have lit a political fire in the Senate Confirmation Wars…..
(This vote had some additional drama….)
The near party-line confirmation followed a dramatic afternoon of vote-switching and awaiting Heitkamp’s arrival to be the critical 60th vote to end debate on the nomination of B. Todd Jones to serve as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Obama blamed Republicans for delaying the confirmation vote on Jones and past ATF nominees while describing Jones as but a small part of his effort to combat gun violence.
“While Todd’s confirmation will help ATF apply the tools it needs to protect our communities from dangerous criminals and reduce gun violence, we can’t stop there,” Obama said. “I will continue to stand with the majority of Americans who support common-sense reforms to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of criminals.”
The 53-42 confirmation vote served as an anticlimactic end to a drama-filled cloture vote on the Senate floor. With only 58 votes for cloture, Democrats converged on Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), imploring her to switch her vote from no to yes as GOP leadership urged the opposite.
After some 40 minutes of lobbying from the likes of Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Murkowski changed her vote. That left a four-hour wait before Heitkamp, who had been home sick in North Dakota, to arrive in Washington after catching a connecting flight from Minneapolis.
“This position hasn’t had a director for seven years and it’s way past time that the job is finally filled,” Heitkamp said in a statement released by her office.
As the Senate waited for Heitkamp to return, activists on both sides of the gun debate urged supporters to call her office on Jones’s nomination. Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt tweeted out the phone number to the senator’s office urging a no vote. Moms Demand Action, a pro-gun control group, asked its followers to call to urge a yes vote.
The drama surrounding Heitkamp was sparked when Murkowski provided the 59th vote for cloture following an intense lobbying effort on the Senate floor from Schumer, Boxer, Feinstein and others. Murkowski, who was a key cog in the Senate deal to allow votes on Obama’s nominees to lead the Labor Department and Environmental Protection Agency also heard on the floor from Republicans including Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, who urged the Alaskan to stand by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the GOP’s ranking member on the Judiciary Committee who protested the vote.Share on Facebook