In a bid to bypass Senator Tommy Tuberville’s blockade over a Pentagon abortion policy, Senate Democrats are forging ahead with a resolution that aims to expedite the confirmation of nearly 400 military nominees. This move comes as key national security positions remain unfilled and military families are left with an uncertain future.
Despite bipartisan outrage and pressure from within his own party, Senator Tuberville has stood firm in his fight against the Pentagon’s abortion policy. This blanket hold on confirmations and promotions for senior military officers has resulted in a growing backlog of nominations.
Highlighting the gravity of the situation, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized Senator Tuberville, stating, “Senator Tuberville has singlehandedly brought the Senate to a new low.”
To address this impasse, the Senate Rules Committee voted 9-7 in favor of a resolution that would enable the Senate to confirm groups of military nominees together for the remainder of the congressional term. The Senate has traditionally confirmed batches of military officers collectively, but this process can be disrupted by a sole objecting senator.
The resolution will now proceed to the Senate floor for a vote, where Democrats will require at least nine Republican votes for its passage. Although some Republicans on the rules panel opposed the measure, citing concerns about potentially diminishing the powers of the Senate minority, there are indications that they may reconsider if Senator Tuberville does not relinquish his holds prior to the vote.
McConnell Criticizes Tuberville’s Holds on Military Nominations
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell voiced his opposition to a Democratic resolution that aims to address the holds placed by Senator Tuberville on nearly 400 military nominees. However, McConnell acknowledged that his objection was specific to the current moment.
McConnell criticized Tuberville for using his leverage against career military officers who hold no influence over the administration’s policy priorities. Despite this, Tuberville has expressed his willingness to engage in negotiations to resolve the situation. Yet, he has not indicated any intention to drop the holds.
Senate Republicans grew increasingly frustrated with Tuberville’s actions and confronted him on the Senate floor for over four hours. They attempted to move forward with the military nominations, but Tuberville consistently objected each time.
Tuberville’s holds are motivated by his opposition to new Pentagon regulations that allow service members to be reimbursed for out-of-state travel related to reproductive care, including abortions. These regulations were established by President Joe Biden’s administration following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn nationwide abortion rights. Some states have since imposed restrictions or bans on the procedure.
Numerous senior military officials have warned that Tuberville’s blockade poses a threat to readiness and national security. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has expressed concern that the delays are detrimental to preparedness and unnecessarily burden military families, who already make significant sacrifices in support of those who serve.