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White House withdraws ATF nominee Chipman after Senate support falls short

David Chipman was voted out of committee in a tie vote on June 24, but Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has not brought him up on the Senate floor.

WASHINGTON — The White House is withdrawing David Chipman as the nominee to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, President Joe Biden said in a statement Thursday.

Biden praised Chipman for his work and said he would have been an exemplary Director of the ATF.

"Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress have made clear that they intend to use gun crime as a political talking point instead of taking serious steps to address it," said Biden.

The move comes after concerns were raised by moderate Democrats, including Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, as well as Angus King of Maine, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. Chipman also faced unanimous opposition from Republicans over his past record on gun control.

Chipman's nomination was voted out of committee in a tie vote on June 24, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has not brought him up on the Senate floor to be officially discharged from the committee because he lacked support.

“It was an honor to be nominated by the President to serve as the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives," Chipman said in a statement on Thursday. "As a 25-year veteran of ATF, I am deeply committed to addressing the national crisis of violent crime and domestic terrorism that threatens the promise of our nation’s public safety."

Biden nominated Chipman, who spent more than two decades with the ATF before he went to work with Giffords, a group that advocates for stricter gun laws and is named for its founder, Gabby Giffords, a former congresswoman from Arizona who was shot at a constituent event.

"Since taking office, my Administration has taken numerous steps to combat gun violence, and we'll continue to use every tool at our disposal to fight gun violence and keep Americans safe," said Biden.

Republicans in opposition of Chipman praised the move including Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

"Glad to hear reports the White House is taking my advice and pulling the terrible nomination of David Chipman," said McConnell, in a tweet.

"Absurd that a vocal opponent of Americans' constitutional rights was ever picked to run ATF. This is a win for the Second Amendment and law-abiding American citizens," he said.

The ATF has not had a Senate-confirmed director since 2013 and has had acting directors since 2015.