Senate hearing delayed for ATF nominee B. Todd Jones

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A U.S. Senate panel had been expected Tuesday morning to hold a hearing on B. Todd Jones, the Minnesota U.S. Attorney who President Obama nominated to be the next director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

But Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the Senate Judiciary Committee's top-ranking Republican, delayed the hearing. Grassley said the Obama administration has not handed committee members information on Jones that the panel has been seeking, MPR reports.

"If we're going to do our job of consenting to the president's nominees, whether they're Republicans or Democrats, you've got to have information," Grassley said, MPR reported. "And you're entitled to that information, and you can't conduct a hearing if you don't have the information."

The Jones nomination has stirred some controversy. He's been accused of mismanagement and targeting whistleblowers. Grassley has previously raised concerns about Jones.

Jones, a 56-year-old former Marine, has been acting director of the ATF since August 2011, as well as the leader of the Minnesota U.S. Attorney's office.

The ATF is an agency within the Justice Department with nearly 5,000 employees and a $1.1 billion budget. It is charged with regulating the gun industry, among a wide array of other responsibilities, including reducing violent crime and preventing terrorism. ATF agents were among those who rushed to the scene of the Boston bombing, as well as to the scene of a plant explosion in West, Texas, earlier this year.

But the agency, which has been beset by scandals, including the Fast and Furious scandal, has been without a permanent director for almost seven years, largely due to political sparring. Gun lobbyists have sought to undercut the agency and pushed to limit its power and slash bureau funding, the New York Times reported earlier this year.

A lack of permanent leadership has hurt the agency, observers say, NPR reported last month.

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