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Senate Republicans Clash Over Senator Tuberville’s Hold on Military Promotions

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In a highly contentious and unprecedented debate on the Senate floor, Republican senators have criticized Senator Tommy Tuberville's hold on military promotions.[0] They are seeking to approve the promotions of senior military officials through a voice vote, as these nominations have been stalled due to Tuberville's objection to the Pentagon's policy on travel for abortion care. This policy was put in place after the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade last year.

Tuberville's hold has been met with resistance from Senate Democrats, led by Senator Kyrsten Sinema, and a few Republicans who are looking to pursue a rarely used procedural tactic to overcome the blockade.[1] By voting on officers individually, the Senate can bypass Tuberville's hold, but doing so for every frozen nomination would take months and hinder progress on other pressing matters.

While the Senate has managed to circumvent Tuberville's hold in a limited manner by voting individually on a few key nominees in recent months, there are still over 370 flag and general officer nominations pending. To vote on each of them individually would be a time-consuming process that could impede the Senate's ability to address other important issues.

The prospect of bypassing Tuberville's hold on the remaining nominations is still weeks away, as it needs to go through the committee process.[2] Many Republican senators have expressed their opposition to this idea, concerned that it could weaken their ability to stall nominations in the future.[2]

In response to Tuberville's hold, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has taken steps to advance the nominations of Adm. Lisa Franchetti for chief of Naval Operations, Gen. David Allvin for Air Force chief of staff, and Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney for assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.[3] Schumer has also filed cloture motions to force votes on these nominees, signaling his determination to move forward despite Tuberville's objection.[4]

Tuberville's hold on military promotions stems from his objection to a Department of Defense policy that reimburses travel costs for military members seeking reproductive care outside of their stationed state.[5] This policy was implemented after the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade, which shifted the responsibility of regulating abortion to individual states.

The Republicans' attempt to overcome Tuberville's blockade marks the first time members of the GOP have pursued such a maneuver.[6] Some of Tuberville's fellow Republican colleagues have been trying to find ways around his hold, with Senator Dan Sullivan going to the Senate floor in an attempt to quickly confirm a large number of nominees.[1]

Schumer has been vocal about the negative impact of Tuberville's hold on the military and has called for him to drop his objection. He emphasized the detrimental effect on military preparedness, the suffering of military families, and the risk of partisan politics interfering with military appointments.

The debate between Tuberville and his colleagues has become increasingly heated. Senator Lindsey Graham criticized Tuberville for denying a promotion to a nominee who had nothing to do with the policy Tuberville objects to.[4] Graham also argued that Tuberville's hold is damaging the military and expressed frustration at his refusal to work towards a resolution.[7]

Tuberville has defended his hold, claiming that the Biden administration would rather “burn down the Senate” than negotiate.[8] He has expressed concerns that changing the rules of the Senate to bypass his hold would have lasting consequences.

The resolution proposed by Senate Majority Leader Schumer, backed by Senator Jack Reed and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, aims to temporarily change the Senate's rules to overcome Tuberville's blockade.[3] However, it would require the support of all Democrats and at least nine Republican votes to pass.[2]

The ongoing dispute over military promotions highlights the deep divisions within the Senate and the challenges of advancing nominations in a highly polarized political environment. As the debate continues, the fate of the stalled nominations hangs in the balance, impacting the military's readiness and the lives of the individuals awaiting promotion.

0. “GOP Senators Blast Tommy Tuberville Over Blockade On Military Promotions” Yahoo! Voices, 2 Nov. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/news/gop-senators-blast-tommy-tuberville-002256516.html

1. “In a reversal, Schumer says he will move forward to confirm hundreds military promotions previously held up by Tuberville” CNN, 2 Nov. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/11/01/politics/schumer-tuberville-military-nominations/index.html

2. “Senate Republicans erupt in anger over Tuberville's military freeze” The Washington Post, 2 Nov. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/11/01/tuberville-military-promotion-hold/

3. “In a reversal, Schumer says he will move forward to confirm hundreds military promotions previously held up by Tuberville” Boston News, Weather, Sports | WHDH 7News, 1 Nov. 2023, https://whdh.com/news/in-a-reversal-schumer-says-he-will-move-forward-to-confirm-hundreds-military-promotions-previously-held-up-by-tuberville/

4. “Tuberville pressured by Republicans on Senate floor to end hold on military nominations” CBS News, 2 Nov. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/tuberville-republican-pressure-military-nominations/

5. “Schumer moves ahead on 3 key military nominees who have been delayed by Tuberville” CNN, 1 Nov. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/10/31/politics/schumer-tuberville-military-nominees/index.html

6. “Tuberville's military blockade challenged by Republican senators” Axios, 2 Nov. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/11/02/tommy-tuberville-block-nominations-military

7. “Tuberville pressured by Republicans on floor to end military nominations hold” Yahoo! Voices, 2 Nov. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/news/tuberville-pressured-republicans-floor-end-024431527.html

8. “Tuberville falsely claims Dems ‘created’ wars in Ukraine, Middle East” MSNBC, 30 Oct. 2023, https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/maddowblog/tuberville-falsely-claims-dems-created-wars-ukraine-middle-east-rcna122751

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