The Senate did not vote on whether to confirm Andrew Traver as the next leader of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives this Congress, sending his nomination back to the White House on Wednesday.
Traver, the chief of the ATF’s Chicago office, faced strong opposition from the National Rifle Association. The gun rights organization said in a news release that he “has been deeply aligned with gun control advocates and anti-gun activities,” noting his involvement with the Gun Violence Reduction Project, a national program supported by police chiefs, and the Joyce Foundation, which pushes for tighter gun laws.
President Barack Obama nominated the 23-year ATF veteran on Nov. 17, but the Senate Judiciary Committee never acted on his nomination. Obama now must re-nominate Traver if he wants the Senate to consider him in the next Congress, which convenes in January.
The ATF has never had a Senate-confirmed appointee. Temporary appointees have led the ATF since a 2006 law gave the Senate the power to confirm the Director.
Former Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan was the last nominee for ATF Director. But Senate Republicans held up the nominee of President George W. Bush over worries about the ATF’s handling of small-gun owners. Sullivan was Acting Director from 2006 to 2009.
ATF Deputy Director Kenneth Melson has led the agency since 2009. He started as Acting Director, but his title was altered. The law limits the amount of time acting chiefs can lead federal agencies.