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Committee deadlocks on Biden's pick to lead firearms agency

President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Steve Dettelbach speaks during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, April 11, 2022.
Carolyn Kaster
/
AP
President Joe Biden's nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Steve Dettelbach speaks during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, April 11, 2022.

Updated June 16, 2022 at 11:31 AM ET

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, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y., 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.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said Thursday that he will make sure the nomination "moves as quickly and speedily through this chamber as possible."

Senate aides said Dettelbach could secure a vote on the Senate floor next week.

"We need a fully functional, fully staffed ATF in order for that agency to fulfill its mission of keeping our communities safe from gun violence," Schumer said in a written statement.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.