The Code Less Travelled

Q&A with Congressman Ted Budd's Director of Policy, Eric Heigis, on August 19, 2021

Created: 09/08/2021 | Updated: 09/10/2021 | Author: Shane Overby
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2A/ATF Questions


What information do you have about the Chipman nomination for ATF director and where his nomination currently stands?


Yeah. So, where it stands right now is in the Senate. They’ve held the confirmation hearing for Chipman.

I don’t believe that there’s been a vote at the committee level, but once there’s a vote at the committee level, it will go up to the Senate floor, and then, if he passes on the Senate floor, then he’s confirmed.

So, he’s still a little bit of ways away from actual confirmation. Congressman Budd has been very concerned about his nomination and his anti-gun stances; I mean, the fact he was an anti-gun lobbyist for a while.

So, we’ve been doing what we can. Obviously, on the senate gets a vote in the confirmation. So, he [Ted Budd] won’t officially get a vote, but he’s written several letters with the Freedom caucus, with the Second Amendment caucus, all opposing Chipman, and urging the senators to reject him.

Of course, the Senate is divided 50/50. So, if it’s all republicans and all democrats voting the same way, then Kamala Harris can break the tie, but if we can peel off just one democrat, then the nomination will not go forward, and, so, that’s the goal right now.


Are there any democrat senators who are expected to oppose Chipman’s confirmation?


None of them have announced that they’re opposed. A couple of them had not announced a position, but the two most likely candidates would be Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona, and then Joe Manchin from West Virginia, and Manchin has been a moderate on gun control.

Obviously, he’s not a strong 2nd Amendment guy, but as far as a democrat goes, knowing his constituency in West Virginia, he’s been very reserved on a lot of the democrat gun control agenda, and he’s a potential person who would not go for that, but he hasn’t announced his position.


Do you have any information on where Joe Manchin currently stands with holding up movement for changes, pressured by democrats, to the filibuster?


Yeah, there have not been any changes made yet.

The Senate has stretched the procedural tools that they have, under the current rules, to allow more legislation to go through without the filibuster.

For example, if you hear the word “reconciliation”, that’s only supposed to be used once every year, but the democrats were able to convince the senate parliamentarian that no, we can actually use reconciliation as much as we want. It just has to follow the reconciliation rules, which means it has to be budgetary related.

So, earlier this year, the COVID bill passed un reconciliation. So, it only needed 51 votes in the Senate, and because of that, they weren’t able to put in a few things that they wanted to, including a $15 minimum wage, and there were some other pro-abortion things they weren’t able to sneak in there, because they weren’t budgetary related. So, that’s what they’ve been doing in the interim, and then, I think, there’s going to be a broader conversation on their side about what they want to do with the filibuster, but as far as Congressman Budd is concerned, his is opposed to changing the filibuster, because it’s been an important consensus building too, but also an import tool for minorities to exercise their rights, and we’ve seen this in the house over the past couple months.

The democrats only have an eight-seat majority, and, yet, they’re acting like they have a 100-seat majority, because they can. That’s how the House is set up, and he doesn’t want the Senate to be operating in the same way.


Where are the rules for reconciliation defined?


They’re defined in a law, in title 2 of the US code, as well as in the Senate’s own rules and procedures.

So, a lot of that is precedents that have been set, and this thick 1,000 page book that goes through all the precedents that I wouldn’t suggest reading through, but the main rules to reconciliation are actually in law, and if you’re interested in learning more about, I think there’s an article by the Congressional Research Service that I can send you that has sort of an explainer of how it works.


Given all the recent discoveries and exposure of Chipman’s poor background, it seems like his nomination is tanked, and he likely will not be confirmed for the ATF director position. Which way do you feel Chipman’s confirmation will go?


I think as more time passes, that is, that becomes a more likely scenario. It was looking like he was just going to sail through in May, and then the opposition sort of organized and really pushed back against him; and, again, I think if we could put enough pressure on Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema, showing that this guy [Chipman] is a rabid partisan, then that’s the best show that we have defeating the nomination.


Regarding the ATF’s proposals to regulate or ban pistol stabilizing braces and to change the definition of a firearm receiver, if these proposals are enacted as regulations is there anything that can be done to repeal them, and are there currently any plans to do so?


Yes, well, first off I’ll let you know Congressman Budd has been submitting his own comments [during the ATF regulation proposal commenting period], along with the 2nd Amendment caucus, that go through, line by line, on how bad these regulations are, how burdensome they will be on the industry, and, also, how they’re illegal; how they expand beyond the power that Congress has granted to the ATF to regulate firearms. So, we’re very opposed to that.

We’re also organizing a letter with the other members of the North Carolina congressional delegation, opposing these two rules.

Also, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but actual 76% of the counties in North Carolina have declared themselves 2nd Amendment sanctuaries; saying that if the federal government passes a bill or a law or a regulation that is unconstitutional or infringes on the rights of the people, protected by the 2nd amendment, they’re not going to use local resource to enforce those, and, unlike the immigration context, there’s actually a Supreme Court decision that says local governments cannot be forced to enforce federal gun laws.

So, we’re leading a letter on that, that the state of North Carolina should not help implement these federal bills or federal rules.

As far as your question on repealing them, there’s two ways we can do that.

The first is what’s called a Congressional Review Act resolution, which is just a two-page bill that says this new rule is repealed, and it gets expedited procedures in the House and the Senate. Now, of course, it has to pass, and with democrats in the majority in both chambers, that’s going to be hard to do, but it is possible and it’s an expedited procedure.

The second way we can do that, and I’m working with the National Shooting Sports Foundation on this, is working on a bill that would preempt the regulations, because what the ATF is saying is that the definition of a frame or receiver and the definition of a firearm is ambiguous, and because of that, they have the authority to go forward and define further. So, by writing and introducing, and hopefully passing, a bill that better defines firearm to exclude what the ATF wants to regulate, we could circumvent them in that way as well.

So, there’s two solutions, and I know Congressman Bishop, from the Charlotte area, is going to be introducing the Congressional Review Act resolution to do a straight repeal, and then Congressman Budd will be working on a bill that will sort of preempt the regulation, but in both instances the ATF will not be able to begin implementing the regulation that they want to implement.


COVID Questions


Is anything being done to prevent companies from pressuring or forcing their employees to get the COVID vaccine?


Well, that’s tough at the federal level, just because of the limited role that the federal government has in our constitutional system, and even when we sort of have things that we really oppose, we also want to make sure that we’re keeping inline with what the founders wanted the federal government to do, and, unfortunately, a lot of these are coming at the state level.

So, Congressman Budd is raising his voice and has written several letters to Governor Cooper, saying do not impose backseat passports, do not impose vaccine mandates.

We also, just before the CDC revised their guidance, we said that the mask mandate needs to go [away] in all situations. So, we’ve been fighting and advocating in that respect and we’ve done some things like, there was a bill that would have taken away federal grant funds to localities that didn’t allow indoor dining. That was one of the ideas that we came up with during the pandemic.

So, we’re looking at ways to take away funding. We’ve also, in the areas of exclusive federal responsibility, Congressman Budd has co-sponsored bills, for example: a bill to make sure that our soldiers, our military isn’t forced to take the vaccine.

So, we’ve been working as much as we can to oppose these mandates, and oppose these anti-freedom and anti-individual rules that are coming out, but it is very sad that we’re seeing so many businesses go down this road and make it so burdensome that you’re essentially forced to get the vaccine.


With the rise in COVID numbers, again, do you think we’ll see another lockdown?


I’m hopeful that that’s not going to happen. Of course, I never thought we should have locked down in the first place.

It seems like it’s gotten through that the lockdowns didn’t work and mandates did not work. We’re seeing some mask mandates start to pop up again, but, basically, it’s not on the scale that we saw early on in the pandemic, and I think for most folks out there in the normal world, they’ve moved on. They know COVID is behind us. We defeated the pandemic, but it’s sort of the public health expert class that doesn’t want to give up power, and, so, they’re coming up with ways to continue to be relevant and continue to hold on to power.

So, again, I don’t think that we’ll go back, fully, into the lockdowns, but, you know, it’s possible that we could see more, not a mandate, but a strong suggestion that you get it [vaccine] and sort of making life difficult if you don’t. I think that’s more likely than the heavy-handed mandates that we saw early on.


With reports of people experiencing sever, potentially life-changing effects, from the COVID vaccine, what recourse do these people have, when pharmaceutical companies are protected and not liable for the issues? How can these people hold someone accountable for the harm they’ve experienced due to this vaccine?


Yeah, the compromise that was reached back, I think, in the 80s or 90s, they took the liability away from pharmaceutical companies for vaccines. It also included, I believe it’s a judgement or a settlement fund that they pay into for these types of situations. So, you can look into that.

It’s something that the federal government runs, but, yeah, it is hard. You can’t just get a lawyer and go to court against a pharmaceutical company. You have to go through a sort of an administrative process.

Again, that goes back to why there shouldn’t be any mandates. It should be an individual choice, and if you’re in a situation where you need the vaccine and your doctor says you’re immunocompromised, you need it, that’s a situation where you’d need to get it, but if not, you shouldn’t be forced to get it. Either way you shouldn’t be forced to get it. Ultimately, it should be an individual choice.


Afghanistan Questions


With the withdrawal from Afghanistan, do you have any information about how many refugees will be coming back to the States, and how many, if any, of those maybe slated for placement in North Carolina?


Yeah, we don’t have the data on that yet.

We do know the Afghanis are being brought in for temporary housing at three locations. It’s Fort Lee, in Virginia, and I forget the other two names of them, but it’s at two installations in Texas and Wisconsin, and most of the folks that are coming over here are, they have Special Immigrant Visas, SIVs, for being interpreters, or cooks, or somehow working with the US government to help our mission in Afghanistan.

Those are the highest priority people that we’re evacuating out of Afghanistan.

So, there’s a lower risk with those folks, because, obviously, they voluntarily decided to work for the US government; they helped us with our mission. They had to work at least a year or two with us in order to get that status.

The more concerning part is the refugees where they didn’t work with us, and we don’t really know who they are. So, we’re going to be monitoring that situation as we sort of find out how many are coming over and where they’re going, but it’s just a little too early to tell, right now, what exactly is going on with that.

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