B. Todd Jones was sworn in this morning as the first permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in seven years.
“I can think of no one better qualified to lead this critical agency, and to reinforce our shared commitment to the highest standards of professionalism and integrity in federal law enforcement, said Vice President Joe Biden, who administered the oath of office at the White House.
The Senate last month confirmed Jones on the eve of its August recess. The vote was 53-42 and came after more than five drama-filled hours during which Senate Democrats waited for Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) to arrive in the chamber and cast the 60th vote necessary to end debate on the nomination.
Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois was the only Republican to cross the aisle and vote in favor of confirmation. Five senators did not vote.
“Today is a historic day for ATF,” Jones said in a statement this morning. “The agency is now in line with its sister components and has been given the respect it deserves as a federal law enforcement agency with a permanent director.”
ATF has been without a permanent director for six years, in large part because of the gun lobby and Senate Republican objections to past candidates. In 2011, then-acting Director Ken Melson was forced to step down over the botched gun-walking operation Fast and Furious.
President Barack Obama used the occasion of Jones’s swearing in to make a renewed push on gun control. The White House announced this morning that ATF will now require background checks for all guns that would be registered to a corporation or a trust.
Attorney General Eric Holder will deliver remarks this afternoon at a swearing-in reception for Jones.