As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York fumed, Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama chalked up a win in his long-running battle over Pentagon job promotions.
Tuberville has put a hold on giving his approval to military promotions due to a Pentagon policy that pays for service members to travel to obtain an abortion. His opposition has stymied the usual Senate procedure that puts promotions on a fast lane for voice vote approval or unanimous consent.
Tuberville has claimed, as approximately 300 promotions have piled up, that Schumer could put them through floor votes one at a time, which is what happened Wednesday after a parliamentary maneuver by Tuberville brought that response from Schumer.
“And so he blinked — we forced his hand,” Tuberville said, according to Fox News. “Now the American people can see they can do it, and hopefully he will continue to do it because I’m not changing my mind on the group at one time.”
On Wednesday, Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown was confirmed as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On Thursday, Gen. Randy A. George was confirmed as the incoming Army chief of staff and Gen. Eric M. Smith was approved as the next commandant of the Marine Corps, according to The Washington Post.
Tuberville said the voting proved Democrats could have moved the nominations along, but they chose not to. Schumer, however, castigated Tuberville in remarks on the Senate floor, according to a news release from Senate Democrats.
“The Senate will overwhelmingly vote to confirm them, and these three honorable men will finally be able to assume their positions,” Schumer said. “And the abortion policy that Senator Tuberville abhors will remain in place. Senator Tuberville will have accomplished nothing.”
Schumer said Tuberville was “essentially trying to make himself the gatekeeper of which officers are promoted and who sits and waits.”
“He’s desperate to shift the responsibility onto others. The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the Senior Senator from Alabama,” Schumer said.
Tuberville said Democratic arguments that he was impacting the military were bogus.
“This hold is not affecting readiness. If Democrats want to complain, they should look in the mirror. I don’t control the floor; the Democrats do,” Tuberville said, according to The New York Times.
“They finally figured out I wasn’t going to give in. I’m still not. They’ve got to do the right thing and move the policy back.”
Tuberville received support from some Republicans, according to The Washington Post.
“You have to be willing to take a stand,” South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, told conservative host Hugh Hewitt, per the Post. “The Senate can at some point override you, and that’s what’s happened recently, but the truth is you only have certain weapons in your arsenal.”
Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said Schumer “proved he could have moved these military promotions months ago.” She said it was the Democrat who was holding service members “hostage.”
However, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said Tuberville eventually needs to be bypassed.
“My very strong personal view is that we need to change the rules, or suspend them, because these nominations have been approved by overwhelming, lopsided majorities, and there is no dispute about the qualifications of the individuals,” Blumenthal said.