In a surprising turn of events, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) conceded to the demands of GOP Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) after a prolonged standoff over key military nominations. Tuberville’s staunch opposition stemmed from his disapproval of the Pentagon’s policy on funding abortion travel.
Taking to social media, Senator Tuberville stated, “One of us was bluffing. It wasn’t me. Democrats are taking the same action they could’ve taken months ago. As long as the Pentagon keeps the unlawful elective abortion policy in place, my holds will remain.”
Schumer, in response, announced his decision to file cloture on three significant military promotions that Tuberville had previously halted. The GOP Senator’s blockade had prevented the Senate’s blanket vote to confirm hundreds of military appointments simultaneously.
One of us was bluffing. It wasn't me.
Democrats are taking the same action they could've taken months ago. As long as the Pentagon keeps the unlawful elective abortion policy in place, my holds will remain. https://t.co/f497iygBDd
— Tommy Tuberville (@TTuberville) September 20, 2023
In Schumer’s address on Wednesday, he expressed his frustration, saying, “We cannot, we should not, allow that to be the case. So I have just filed cloture on the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Army Chief of Staff. These men should have already been confirmed. They should already be serving in their new positions.”
Schumer went on to criticize Tuberville’s actions, labeling them as “brazen and misguided. But this is where we are.” He asserted that the Senate would vote overwhelmingly to overcome Tuberville’s blockade and confirm the nominees. Schumer also emphasized that the abortion policy, which Tuberville vehemently opposes, would remain unchanged.
Despite Schumer’s strong words, the underlying message was clear: the Senate Majority Leader had yielded to the pressure exerted by Senator Tuberville. Schumer concluded by expressing hope that Tuberville would not object to the upcoming votes, but warned Senators to anticipate votes extending into the weekend if necessary.
BREAKING: Chuck Schumer caves to @SenTuberville and announces that he is filing cloture on three of the military promotions that Tuberville has stopped via his block on the Senate's blanket vote to confirm hundreds of military appointments at once over the Pentagon funding… pic.twitter.com/JoAr5nJXFJ
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) September 20, 2023
In turn, Schumer has kickstarted Senate voting procedures for the three prominent military nominees in an attempt to sidestep Tuberville’s extended halt on military advancements and approvals. The delay originates from Tuberville’s disagreement with a Pentagon rule that covers the travel expenses of service members getting abortions from out-of-state facilities.
The nominees include Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, proposed as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Randy A. Georgia, put forth as the Army’s chief of staff; and Gen. Eric Smith, slated to be the Marine Corps commandant. An informed source suggested to CBS that Tuberville is unlikely to oppose these nominations, which is expected to accelerate their approval.
Nonetheless, Tuberville has explicitly stated his plan to persistently delay other military nominations. Conventionally, Senate confirmation for military promotions happens collectively with everyone’s agreement. If each nominee had to be voted on separately, it might bog down the Senate’s legislative work for a lengthy period.
This impasse initiated by Tuberville has sparked debates, impacting many military officials and significant military designations. Currently, his blockade has affected over 300 high-ranking officers.
The urgency to address these nominations is amplified, with Gen. Mark Milley’s impending retirement as the Joint Chief of Staff’s chairman at September’s close. Until his successor is approved, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Chris Grady, will temporarily hold the position.