President Obama’s nomination of Minnesota U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) cleared a key Senate panel Thursday, setting up a potential floor fight with Republican opponents.
The 10-8 party-line vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee culminated six-months of behind-the-scenes maneuvering marked by increasingly personal attacks on Jones’ management style as Minnesota’s top law enforcement officer and as acting ATF chief.
The nomination battle also has played out against the backdrop of Obama’s gun control agenda in the wake of the December schoolhouse massacre in Newtown, Conn.
Facing a potential GOP filibuster, Democrats would have to secure at least six Republican votes to install Jones as the permanent head of the ATF, an agency he has led as acting director for the past two years.
Minnesota Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, both members of the Judiciary panel, voted for Jones’ nomination.
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