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David Chipman. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden has withdrawn the nomination of David Chipman to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after opposition, the White House announced Thursday.

Driving the news: President Biden nominated Chipman, a gun control advocate, in April to head the agency, which has not had a permanent director since 2015 and is considered a force within the federal government to combat gun violence.

  • Chipman has served as a senior policy adviser at Giffords, a group led by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) that advocates for stricter gun laws.
  • He previously worked for the ATF as a special agent for more than two decades.

What they're saying: "He would have been an exemplary director of the ATF and would have redoubled its efforts to crack down on illegal firearms traffickers and help keep our communities safe from gun violence," Biden said in a statement.

  • "Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress have made clear that they intend to use gun crime as a political talking point instead of taking serious steps to address it," he added.
  • "That’s why they’ve moved in lockstep to block David Chipman’s confirmation, and it’s why they side with gun manufacturers over the overwhelming majority of the American people in opposing commonsense measures like universal background checks.
  • "We knew this wouldn’t be easy — there’s only been one Senate-confirmed ATF director in the bureau’s history — but I have spent my entire career working to combat the scourge of gun violence, and I remain deeply committed to that work."

Chipman said in a statement that "[i]t was an honor to be nominated."

  • "I knew this confirmation process would be difficult, and while ultimately we weren’t successful, it remains essential that ATF is led by a confirmed director who is accountable to the public and places no special interests before the safety of our children and our communities," he added.

State of play: Some Democratic senators, including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), have said they remain undecided on the nomination. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told the Biden administration that he was not supportive.

  • Chipman faced widespread opposition from Senate Republicans, with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calling his gun policy views "extreme" and saying he is "unsuited enough" for the role.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with Biden and Chipman's statements.

Go deeper

Hoyer pushes to limit firearms in Capitol after gun arrest

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Tuesday asked the Capitol's top security officials for a briefing clarifying rules around lawmakers carrying firearms in the Capitol complex.

Why it matters: The request comes at the close of a tense and violent year for Congress, which was most recently rocked by last week's arrest of an aide who allegedly carried an unlicensed handgun into a House office building.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
14 mins ago - Science

A new NASA astronaut corps for the next era in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA's next crewed missions to the Moon will need a larger, differently-trained and multi-skilled astronaut corps to deliver on the agency's ambitions.

Why it matters: NASA has plans to fly astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2025 and ultimately establish a long-term presence there. That goal requires a robust corps with new, specialized training in what it takes to live and work on the Moon — and NASA needs to start planning now.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.