Committee deadlocks on Biden's pick to lead firearms agency

Steven Dettelbach, President Joe Biden's pick to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 25, 2022, the morning after the killing of at least 19 children by a teenage gunman at a Texas elementary school. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Senate Judiciary Committee has deadlocked 11-11 along party lines on the nomination of Steve Dettelbach to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Democrats can still advance the nomination to the full Senate using procedural moves, and three key lawmakers – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Angus King of Maine, and John Tester of Montana – say they support his nomination. Dettelbach would be the first Senate confirmed ATF director in seven years.

A former U.S. attorney in Ohio during the Obama administration, Dettelbach has won support from the National Sheriff’s Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

President Biden’s first nominee for the ATF post withdrew after key Senate Democrats expressed doubt about his background.

Mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, as well as a recent finding that guns are the leading cause of death for American children, have increased pressure for a permanent leader of the main federal agency for controlling illegal firearms.

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