Aug 01 2013

ThinkProgress: Senate Confirms Top Gun Cop For The First Time In American History

Newswire | Published 1 Aug 2013, 7:14 am | Comments Off on ThinkProgress: Senate Confirms Top Gun Cop For The First Time In American History -

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By the narrowest of margins — and after a lengthy vote held open due to one senator’s absence — the Senate voted Wednesday evening to break a Republican filibuster of B. Todd Jones to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John McCain (R-AZ) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) crossed over to vote with all 54 Democrats to break the filibuser. Shortly after this vote, Jones was confirmed 53-42 — the first time in American history that an ATF Director has been confirmed.

Prior to 2006, the ATF Director could be appointed directly by the president without going through the Senate confirmation process. That changed after the National Rifle Association successfully lobbied to insert a provision into a law reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act requiring Senate approval of any such Director.

The result of Senate scrutiny has not been better qualified or more unassailable ATF Directors. It has instead meant that no ATF Director has ever been confirmed. After the 2006 law took effect, President Bush nominated U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan to head the agency, but the NRA accused Sullivan of “overly restrictive legal interpretations” and “overly zealous enforcement activities.” Sens. David Vitter (R-LA), Larry Craig (R-ID) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) threatened to filibuster Sullivan, and he was never confirmed.


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