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Senate vote on Jones nomination could come this week

WASHINGTON — The Senate could vote on Minnesota U.S. attorney B. Todd Jones’ nomination to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms this week, according to Politico

The paper reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could file a cloture motion on Jones’ nomination on Monday night, setting up a vote as early as Wednesday. Such a procedural motion has a 60-vote threshold, so Democrats would need to entice a handful of Republicans to support Jones, something that hasn’t appeared likely

But there might be movement on that front, according to Politico

The [National Rifle Association] has told people involved in the confirmation effort that it will remain neutral on the Jones nomination, sources said Monday, allowing Democrats from gun-friendly states and Republicans to vote for Jones without hurting their standing with the gun rights organization.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam declined to comment. “Our position will be made clear before the vote,” he said Monday.

White House officials began calling law enforcement allies Friday to get them to whip support for Jones, the U.S. attorney for Minnesota who Obama named interim ATF director in 2011 and nominated for the post permanently as part of his menu of executive actions on gun violence after last December’s school shooting massacre at Newtown, Conn.

The law enforcement groups are lobbying senators who participated in the filibuster-saving deal that allowed confirmation votes earlier this month on Labor Secretary Tom Perez, EPA Administrator Lisa McCarthy and National Labor Relations Board members.

Every Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against Jones when the committee moved him to the floor earlier this month. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the panel, said the Senate should wait to consider Jones’ nomination until an internal affairs investigation into Jones is completed. 

Grassley told the Star Tribune last week that he wouldn’t block Jones’ nomination on the floor, but he walked that back in Politico on Monday. 

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.

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