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Illinois Sens. Richard J. Durbin, a Democrat, and Mark Kirk, a Republican, who support the nomination, say the lack of permanent leadership has “hampered our nation’s efforts to combat street gangs and drug cartels and to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”

They told Mr. Obama in a letter in February that it was “long past time for the ATF director position to be filled,” adding that “Mr. Traver is the right man for the job.”