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Chipman, who had a history of caustic comments about gun owners and worked for gun control groups for years after his career as an ATF agent, was staunchly opposed by Republicans. But he struggled to gain the support of several Democrats, who never explicitly opposed Chipman's nomination but also never publicly supported him either.
"David Chipman spent 25 years in distinguished service to our country as an ATF agent," President Biden said in a statement Thursday. "David Chipman spent 25 years in distinguished service to our country as an ATF agent."
Biden added: "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. 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."
Biden also said he is "grateful" for Chipman's work to fight gun violence.
The Washington Post first reported the development, which several Republicans who led the fight against Chipman's nomination welcomed.
"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," Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said. "The record he concealed from Congress, some of which remains hidden to this day, about how he treated his fellow employees while at the ATF confirms his lack of fitness to lead the agency."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has often supported Biden's executive nominees, celebrated Chipman's downfall as well.
"Glad to hear reports the White House is taking my advice and pulling the terrible nomination of David Chipman," McConnell tweeted. "Absurd that a vocal opponent of Americans' constitutional rights was ever picked to run ATF. This is a win for the Second Amendment and law-abiding American citizens."
"I’ve been opposed to David Chipman leading the ATF from the start. He's an anti-Second Amendment, gun-grabbing radical that should not lead the agency that regulates firearms," Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., blamed the "gun lobby," which staunchly opposed Chipman, for the nominee's downfall. But the nominee would have been confirmed if it weren't for one or more of Durbin's Democratic Senate colleagues opposing him as well.
"ATF is a federal agency focused on reducing gun violence by enforcing the law and prohibiting the sale of firearms to convicted felons and other dangerous individuals. The gun industry resents their work as it limits sales and holds them accountable for violations of the law," Durbin said. "That is why the gun lobby is determined to leave the Director’s position vacant."
"David Chipman is the latest target of their concerted effort," Durbin continued. "We cannot be cowered by gun dealers who are flooding America with crime guns."
Chipman previously worked for gun control groups Giffords and Everytown. A third gun control group, Brady United, condemned the Senate for failing to confirm Chipman.
"It is hugely disappointing and unconscionable that 50 members of the U.S. Senate as well as at least one senator who caucuses with the President’s party would deny President Biden his choice to lead the ATF. It is even more concerning that they would do so by parroting the talking points of the gun lobby, which has spread misinformation and blatant lies about David Chipman since his nomination was announced," Brady President Kris Brown said.
"It is immoral and indefensible that the only agency with regulatory oversight over the gun industry has been permitted to persist for so many years without leadership, because of the outsized influence the gun industry has over what used to be considered ‘the world’s greatest deliberative body,’" Brown added. She also said that "we cannot continue to allow this position to be senate-confirmable."
Chipman himself, meanwhile, called on Congress to quickly confirm another director for the ATF who will fight against gun violence.
"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," Chipman said. "I’d like to thank Gabby Giffords, whose courage is contagious, and all the other victims of senseless violence who have inspired me to never give up this fight."
This marks the second major defeat for one of President Biden's nominees of his term. The White House withdrew its nomination of Neera Tanden to run the Office of Management and Budget earlier this year, after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced he opposed her over her controversial Twitter history.
It's unclear at this point who could be the White House's pick to replace Chipman. The Senate hasn't confirmed an ATF director for years.
When Biden first announced the Chipman nomination, he called Chipman "he’s the right person, at this moment, for this important agency." At least some Senate Democrats appear to disagree.
Fox News' Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.