ATF Nomination Held Up In “Never-Ending Political Game”


The confirmation of Boston U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan as head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives was thrown into further doubt yesterday, when a Republican senator who is blocking the nomination renewed complaints that Sullivan has refused to loosen licensing rules for guns, reports the Boston Globe. Sullivan is performing both roles while his nomination is caught in a crossfire over gun policy. Senator David Vitter of Louisiana met with Sullivan late last year to discuss what Vitter described as burdensome regulations imposed on gun owners and dealers by the bureau, which Sullivan has led as acting director since September 2006. “I recently received his answers to those questions, and I was disappointed in his responses, so I am going to continue to hold this nominee,” Vitter said. “The nominee seems to support the ATF’s current inadequate policies and exhibits a lack of willingness to address these problems.”

A single senator can put a hold on legislative action for months. Vitter and two Republican senators from Idaho, Larry Craig and Mike Crapo, have held up Sullivan’s confirmation since December, saying the bureau is overly aggressive in enforcing gun laws. President Bush said last week that the confirmation process has “turned into a never-ending political game where everyone loses.” Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said he was “disappointed that his nomination is now in jeopardy simply because he has responsibly enforced our country’s laws.”


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