For months, the nomination and promotion process for the military leadership has been at a standstill due to Senator Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) holds on nominees. These holds were placed in response to the Biden administration’s Pentagon policy that provides paid time off and covers travel expenses for abortions for servicemembers and their dependents.
In a desperate effort to overcome Tuberville’s holds and advance over 300 stalled promotions, Senate Democrats are working with Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and a small group of Republicans to push for a rule change. This change would allow for an en-bloc vote, potentially reducing the number of votes needed to confirm these nominations.
The proposed resolution, being spearheaded by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sinema, includes an exemption for upper-level promotions, such as members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and combatant commanders.
However, this proposal has already met resistance from within the Republican Party. Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), ranking member of the Rules Committee, expressed concerns about setting a dangerous precedent by promoting a one-time exemption that could potentially weaken senators’ individual power.
Even among those Republican senators who do not support Tuberville’s holds, there remains reluctance to support the proposal, as they do not want to set a precedent that could undermine their individual power in the future. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), who is currently seeking to fill two vacancies on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which Tuberville has agreed to vote on quickly, also expressed hesitation over the proposed resolution.
“I came here to this chamber to vote. And I reserve the right to seek another cloture position on the nominees in the future.” https://t.co/aHyD6n19NE
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Republican Whip John Thune (R-SD) acknowledged the difficulty in finding enough Republican votes to pass the resolution, which would require nine or ten Republicans to join Democrats.
Moreover, many Republican senators who could potentially support the resolution also voiced their preference for resolving the issue in another way. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) suggested that the nominations should be voted on individually, rather than en bloc and that Tuberville’s concerns about the Pentagon’s abortion policy must be taken into consideration.
Rubio also pointed to the recent successful vote on three leadership positions, after Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) granted Tuberville’s request for individual votes. Tuberville made it clear that he will maintain his holds on nominations unless the Pentagon’s abortion policy is addressed.
Senator Rubio has been a vocal supporter of Tuberville’s holds, criticizing the Biden administration’s woke military policies, such as Critical Race Theory, drag shows, and Pride month events. He has also expressed concerns over the military’s prioritization of pronoun usage.
With Republicans divided on the proposed resolution, Democrats face an uphill battle to overcome Tuberville’s objections. But, they continue to push for a rules change, arguing that it is necessary to move forward with essential military promotions.