B. Todd Jones has been confirmed by the Senate as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives this evening by a 53 to 42 vote. The confirmation follows a five-hour delay on a cloture vote as the Senate waited for North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, reported recovering from an illness and flying in from North Dakota, to arrive at the Capitol to cast the needed over-the-top vote for ending debate on President Obama’s nomination. That procedural vote started at 2 p.m. this afternoon, with the vote left hanging at 59 to 40, CSPAN televised, and cloture allowed the nomination of ATF’s Acting Director to move forward for the confirmation vote.
The final 60 to 40 cloture count that brought the confirmation vote to the floor was enabled by the flipping of Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who changed her vote today to join five other Republicans, John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. That some of these ended up holding out against Jones on the confirmation vote does not alter the fact that their cloture vote enabled the confirmation.
Speculation on why Murkowski changed her vote to do that has some referencing a “moderate Republican” influence, and Politico citing “an intense lobbying effort on the Senate floor from Democrats Chuck Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein and others.” A more likely green light indicator may be the National Rifle Association inexplicably signaling their neutrality and the National Shooting Sports Foundation actually backing the Jones confirmation, removing the danger of political reprisals, at least from the two major national organizations wielding commensurate money and influence.
The move to end debate and take the Jones nomination out of the Senate Judiciary Committee was most vigorously opposed by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who in a June hearing on the Jones nomination reminded colleagues “[T]here remains an open investigation by the Office of Special Counsel regarding Mr. Jones’ conduct as U.S. Attorney. Generally, when a nominee is the subject of an open investigation, the Committee does not move forward until the issues are resolved. That is the sensible thing to do.”
The nomination has also been one of concern for gun rights activists, noting complaints against Jones in his capacity as ATF acting director for whistleblower retaliation, evidence of his office receiving marching orders from the same Chief Counsel’s Office that has obfuscated the Fast and Furious investigation, questionable sweetheart deals, the treating of criminal matters as personnel issues, and concerns over Jones failing to address any of the institutional issues that ATF plagues gun makers, dealers and owners with, from contradictory rulings, to incompetent gun owner-jeopardizing recordkeeping, to violating their own standards on Federal Firearms License revocations, and more.
And that doesn’t even touch on concerns raised about his actions and management style at the U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota, with allegations about whistleblower retaliation, mismanagement and abuse of authority that Grassley called “very troubling.”
Now that Jones, in spite of all the unanswered questions, has been voted permanent ATF Director, he will be even more secure in his position to execute the will of Eric Holder and Barack Obama and their committed anti-gun agenda. How that will benefit America’s gun owners is something the aisle-crossing Republicans, the NSSF and the NRA may not be eager to elaborate on.
Gun Rights Examiner will provide a link to the final vote tally when it becomes available.
UPDATE: Cloture vote. Confirmation vote.
The latest GUNS Magazine “Rights Watch” column is online, and you can read it before the magazine hits the stands. All aboard for the Bloomberg bus bust. Click here to read “Magical Misery Tour.”
If you’re a regular Gun Rights Examiner reader and believe it provides news and perspectives you won’t find in the mainstream media, please subscribe to this column and help spread the word by sharing links, promoting it on social media like Facebook (Dan) and Twitter (@dcodrea), and telling your like-minded friends about it. And for more commentary, be sure to visit “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance.”