An influential Republican senator has threatened to put on hold President Obama’s nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, raising once again the possibility that the gun-regulating agency will not have a director.
The president two weeks ago nominated acting ATF Director B. Todd Jones to become the agency’s full-time director. The ATF has been without a director for six years. But on Thursday, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, released a statement criticizing Jones and questioning his ability to lead the ATF. Grassley criticized Jones’s decisions in a Minnesota legal case involving housing discrimination and raised questions about an ATF operation in Milwaukee. He also criticized Jones for not answering questions from his staff about his decisions at ATF in the aftermath of the bungled Phoenix gun operation known as Fast and Furious.
“I believe that ATF needs a Senate-confirmed director,” Grassley said at a Senate Judiciary Committee business meeting. “However, if we are prohibited from asking questions about important matters that get to the core of leadership, character and candor about a nominee’s ability to run an agency, it makes our job that much harder.”