DemDaily: Tuberville Releases Hold On Military Promotions

December 6, 2023

Hardline conservative Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville (AL) on Tuesday finally ceased his ten-month blockade on the military promotions of over 425 general and flag military officer nominations at three-star rank and below.

He is still demanding, however, that the 11 people nominated for four-star promotions undergo roll-call votes on the Senate floor.

Military promotions are normally approved by the Senate in large blocs by voice vote or "unanimous consent."

In late February, Tuberville announced he would obstruct all "civilian, flag, and general officer nominations" due to the "illegal expansion of DoD authority and gross misuse of taxpayer dollars" for abortions.

His one-man protest concerns the Department of Defense reproductive health policy that covers certain abortion-related travel expenses for service members based in states with restrictive reproductive healthcare laws.

Despite intense pressure from members of his own party, Tuberville vowed to exercise the hold the policy was terminated through Pentagon action or legislation. "I was elected to represent the people of Alabama in this country. I’m a Senator. I can hold any confirmation I want until we get some kind of confirmation of why [they’re] doing this,” said Tuberville.

While a hold does not prevent the Senate from voting on nominations, it forces floor debate on each nominee, which would take months to complete.

Tuberville spurred a national security crisis, delaying the appointments of military personnel at every level -- most critically, at the senior command level, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff. For the first time in 164 years, the United States Marine Corps has been operating without a US Senate-confirmed commandant.

"Never before has one Senator prevented the Department of Defense from managing its officer corps in this manner, and letting this hold continue would set a perilous precedent for our military, our security, and our country." - Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who sits on the Armed Services Committee and chairs the Subcommittee on Personnel, said, “Holding up one nominee or even a short hold on a handful of nominees has been a way that Senators from time to time have exercised a little leverage...[but] these are holds that are broad and in Senator Tuberville’s case undermine our national security.”

In May Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin wrote to Warren, urging the Senate to resolve the situation: "Delays in confirming our general and flag officers pose a clear risk to U.S. military readiness, particularly at this critical time...This indefinite hold harms America’s national security...The longer that this hold persists, the greater the risk the US military runs in every theater, every domain, and every service.”

The same month, seven former defense secretaries from both Democratic and Republican administrations wrote to Senate leadership saying the blanket hold is “harming military readiness and risks damaging US national security.”

In lifting the blockade Tuesday, Tuberville stated that he relented after senators devised a bipartisan plan to temporarily bypass the chamber’s rules to allow confirmation of the military nominees as a bloc. Senators of both parties, however, were reluctant to change the Senate’s rules.

“It’s been a long fight,” Mr. Tuberville told reporters. “We fought hard. We did the right thing for the unborn and for our military, fighting back against executive overreach.”

Tuesday afternoon, after the Senate confirmed 425 nominees unanimously, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said members of the military and their families, who have endured a "pointless and gravely damaging ordeal...can breathe a sigh of relief." Schumer affirmed that the Senate will work to confirm the rest of the nominees whom Tuberville is blocking "soon."

The former Auburn University football coach, elected to the US Senate in 2020 with the help of former President Donald Trump, has long stirred controversy for his ultra-conservative rants on abortion, transgender rights and race, as well as support for White nationalists.

The Pentagon estimated that Tuberville's action impacted more than 600 military personnel.

“In the end, this was all pointless. Senator Tuberville, and the Republicans who stood with him, needlessly hurt hundreds of service members and military families and threatened our national security -- all to push a partisan agenda. I hope no one forgets what he did.” - President Joe Biden

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Sources: NBC, DOD, New York Times, Yahoo, PBS

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