Congress should move swiftly to pass legislative reforms proposed by the president and confirm the nomination of B. Todd Jones to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Attorney General Eric Holder said today in a speech.
“Some have said that these changes will require ‘tough’ votes by members of Congress,” Holder said. “Public service is never easy, and there come times when those of us who are in elected or appointed positions must put the interests of those we are privileged to serve above that which might be politically expedient or professionally safe. This is one of those times.”
Speaking in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting, the Attorney General called on Congress to follow through with President Barack Obama’s gun reform plans. Vice President Joe Biden headed a task force to investigate and recommend gun reforms in the wake of the deadly elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six adults dead in December. Holder, the nation’s top law enforcement official, served on the task force.
Obama outlined 23 executive orders and a number of legislative proposals, including a reauthorization of the assault weapon ban, on Wednesday. His plan has already received some push back from GOP lawmakers, however.
Today, Holder defended the president from criticism.
“Not one of the executive orders — contrary to what a few have said – impinges upon anyone’s Second Amendment rights or is inconsistent with the historical use of executive power,” Holder said.
Holder called on Congress to “adopt [the reforms] without delay,” saying “the measures represent essential parts of any serious, comprehensive effort to eradicate gun violence.”
The Attorney General also urged the Senate to move swiftly to confirm the president’s nominee to head the beleaguered ATF.
Jones, who Obama said he intends to nominate for the position, has been the acting chief since August 2011. While pulling double duty as the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, Jones was brought in to clean up the battered agency. Its previous director was forced to step down after the details of botched gun probe Operation Fast and Furious came to light.
The Senate has never confirmed an ATF chief. The position has been subject to Senate confirmation since 2006. There are already signs Jones’s path to confirmation will not be an easy one.