President Biden’s nominee to head up an agency tasked with reducing gun violence has cleared a key procedural hurdle in the Senate, paving the path forward for a potential confirmation vote in the days ahead.
The Senate voted 52-41 on Thursday afternoon on a motion to discharge Steve Dettelbach, whom Biden nominated earlier this year to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), out of committee.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) joined Democrats in advancing Dettelbach’s nomination, which will allow the upper chamber to bring his nomination up for a floor vote.
The vote comes hours after the Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on an earlier vote to move the nomination forward. The Senate is expected to vote on whether to confirm Dettelbach’s nomination next week.
The White House tapped Dettelbach for the role in early April. Months before, it withdrew a previous nomination for David Chipman, a former ATF agent, following opposition from Republicans and gun rights groups.
Chipman’s nomination had also previously drawn resistance from Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who caucuses with Democrats. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) had previously been hesitant to back his nomination as well.
However, the three senators have since expressed support for Dettelbach’s nomination, increasing the chances of his confirmation in the days ahead.
If confirmed, it would mark the first time since 2013 that the Senate has approved a leader for the post, after past efforts by the Trump administration to have a director confirmed also failed amid pushback from Republicans.
The years-long battle to confirm a leader in the role has garnered more attention in the wake of back-to-back mass shootings in New York and Texas last month.
In the weeks since the shootings, bipartisan talks have also picked up in the Senate around gun reform, as nationwide calls have grown for action.
Collins and Portman are among the bipartisan group of senators that announced a deal on a framework on legislation to address gun violence on Sunday.