Biden’s pick to lead ATF in spotlight at Senate hearing after Texas elementary school shooting


First on CNN: Major County Sheriffs of America endorses Biden's ATF nominee Steve Dettelbach

An 18-year-old gunman on Tuesday fatally shot 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school before he was killed by law enforcement officers, officials said. It is the deadliest shooting at a school since the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut in 2012 that left 26 people dead, including 20 children aged between 6 and 7 years old.

The tragedy has shocked the nation and ratcheted up the pressure on Congress and the President to take action, though Democrats can do little to pass stricter gun control measures in a 50-50 Senate amid widespread Republican opposition.

Against that backdrop, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the nomination of Steve Dettelbach to run the ATF during a hearing on Wednesday.

Dettelbach could be confirmed in the Senate without any GOP votes if all Democrats vote in favor and Vice President Kama Harris breaks a tie.

But Democratic unity is not guaranteed on the contentious issue of gun policy. And the White House has already suffered an embarrassing setback over its efforts to confirm a nominee to head the bureau last fall.

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In September 2021, the White House withdrew the nomination of David Chipman to lead the bureau. Biden put the blame on Republicans for the inability to get Chipman confirmed, even though there had been stiff resistance among moderate Democrats and independent Maine Sen. Angus King — as well as GOP senators — over Chipman’s past record on gun control.

The incident laid bare the reality of confirming someone to a post that has made past comments on such a sensitive and divisive issue as gun control, something that is sure to once again be front and center in Dettelbach’s hearing. Dettelbach made clear he supported universal background checks and a ban on assault-style weapons during his bid to be attorney general of Ohio in 2018. Those positions are expected to face scrutiny Wednesday.

Dettelbach is a former federal prosecutor and was previously unanimously confirmed by the Senate to serve as the US attorney for the Northern District of Ohio under President Barack Obama.

The ATF has operated under a series of acting directors since its last Senate-confirmed leader stepped down in 2015, and the Senate last confirmed an ATF nominee in 2013.

Quoted from Various Sources

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