For the first time in seven years, the Senate confirmed a director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Wednesday after an almost record-setting procedural vote that took five hours.
The Senate voted 53-42 to confirm Todd Jones as director of ATF Wednesday evening. The Senate held open its cloture vote on Jones’ confirmation for five hours as it waited for Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., to fly back to Washington, D.C. from North Dakota to cast the needed 60th vote to move forward to a final vote. She finally cast her vote at 7:01 p.m., five hours after the cloture vote started.
According to the Senate Historian’s Office, the record time a Senate vote has been held open in recent history occurred in 2009 when the Senate waited for five hours and 15 minutes for Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, to fly from his mother’s funeral to Washington to cast his vote for the $787 billion stimulus package. Today’s cloture vote fell about 15 minutes short of that record.
Jones has served as acting director at ATF since 2011 while continuing his work as a U.S. attorney in Minnesota. President Obama officially nominated Jones to the post in January not long after the deadly massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The ATF has been without a permanent director since 2006, when the Senate was given the authority to approve the bureau’s directors.