David Chipman's nomination to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives came under fire quickly for his ties to Giffords, a gun-control organization headed by former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords where he is a senior policy adviser. Reports later claimed that Chipman, a 20-year veteran of the agency he was nominated to lead, made racist comments throughout his tenure.
The White House said last month it was looking with “eyes wide open into the challenge from the beginning.”
“We knew this wouldn’t be easy,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced back then.
Though with the potential for Chipman's nomination to be eliminated as early as this week, that challenge seems to be coming to a close. The White House refused to comment.
Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, warned the White House and Democrats that he is unlikely to back Chipman, while Democrats, including Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, have not shown a position. Manchin announced in July that he was undecided.
One source announced it was King's opposition that eventually derailed Chipman's chances.
These represent key votes for Chipman, who faces blanket resistance from Republican senators.
Manchin has already torpedoed one Biden nomination this year. The White House pulled the nomination of longtime Democratic operative Neera Tanden to direct the Office of Management and Budget shortly after Manchin announced he would not back her.
Another Biden pick is facing headwinds from inside the Democratic Party. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez crashed the White House's nomination of Rahm Emanuel to serve as ambassador to Japan, describing it as "deeply shameful."
Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which manages the ATF confirmation process, greeted the news of Chipman's impending withdrawal.
“Mr. Chipman’s long record as a partisan, anti-Second Amendment activist raised plenty of concerns about how he’d administer federal firearms laws. But that wasn’t the only cause for concern," Grassley said in a statement.
Emanuel, the former mayor of Chicago, led the city at the time of the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The officer was charged just after a lawsuit pressed city officials to publish the footage of the 2014 shooting.
Biden described Chipman's confirmation as an integral part of his agenda to bring down gun violence in the wake of multiple mass shootings earlier this year. Biden hailed Chipman in April as “the right person, at this moment, for this important agency.”
Similar to Tanden, Emanuel is a party insider with ties to previous Democratic administrations.