White House withdraws ATF nominee after GOP pushback

The White House on Tuesday formally withdrew Chuck Canterbury‘s nomination to lead the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). 

The Trump administration sent notice to Congress that it is pulling the nomination, which has been stuck in limbo since September amid opposition from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Canterbury was nominated for the top ATF position in June and had a hearing before the Judiciary Committee in July, but senators appeared rankled over his answers when they tried to press him on his view on firearms. Canterbury was renominated for the post in mid-February but never received a committee vote. 

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham announces vote on subpoenas for Comey, Obama-era intel officials Protecting the financial system against the coming cyber storms New book reminds us: Trump got played — bigly — by North Korea MORE (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told The Hill last year that the nomination was “going to be very problematic.”

Pressed at the time if the White House should withdraw the nomination, Graham deferred to the administration but reiterated that Canterbury’s nomination was a “problem.”

GOP Sens. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.) and Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleySenate GOP crafting wishlist for next coronavirus package Bipartisan senators seek funding for pork producers forced to euthanize livestock A vote against the WTO is a vote against Trump’s trade priorities MORE (Mo.) both told The Hill at the time that they would not support Canterbury if his nomination was brought up for a vote in the committee. 

Spokespeople for Sens. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseSasse rips ‘thugs in China’ in high school graduation speech Commerce Department cracks down on Huawei’s access to chips Sasse wins Republican Senate primary MORE (R-Neb.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: Commerce announces new Huawei restrictions | Russian meddling report round five | Google’s ad business in spotlight Justice Department signals opposition to Senate’s surveillance bill Hillicon Valley: Senate votes to reauthorize intel programs with added protections | ACLU calls on House to block warrantless web browsing surveillance | Dems introduce COVID-19 privacy bill MORE (R-Utah) also said at the time that they both had “concerns” about Canterbury, pointing toward his views on the Second Amendment. 

Republicans hold a 12-10 majority on the Judiciary panel, meaning Canterbury could only lose one GOP vote before he would have needed support from Democrats to get his nomination sent to the Senate floor.

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