Republicans publicly lambasted GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama after the senator objected to dozens of requests for votes on individual military officer promotions Wednesday night.
Tuberville has said he does not oppose voting one-at-a-time to confirm officers affected by his hold but is against the standard procedure of approving them en masse by unanimous consent, maintaining his hold in protest of the Department of Defense (DOD)’s abortion travel rule. Republicans brought the names of more than 60 officers to the Senate floor over several hours Wednesday night in the party’s most direct challenge to Tuberville yet, but he shot down attempts to vote on each one.
“My hold is on unanimous consent, not the individuals. They can be voted on one at a time…just like always,” Tuberville said in a social media post earlier on Wednesday. “Chuck Schumer could’ve been calling these noms up since February. He’s refused.”
In a move led by GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Republicans Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Todd Young of Indiana and Mitt Romney of Utah brought 61 officers’ names to the floor over 4.5 hours for unanimous consent votes while excoriating Tuberville for his tactic.
Sullivan said he was “as pro-life as they come” and opposed the Pentagon’s policy, which allows and pays for service members to travel out of state to obtain elective abortions, Politico reported. But Sullivan said Tuberville’s holds are crippling the military during global crises and hurting people who have no control over the civilian DOD’s policy schemes.
“The idea that some of these officers are supposedly woke or desk jockeys, it’s ridiculous,” Sullivan said, calling the blockade “a national security suicide mission,” according to Politico.
Sullivan reiterated that Tuberville previously said his hold does not apply to individual confirmation votes, Politico reported.
Democrats have pulled similar stunts in the previous months, but Wednesday marked the first time Republicans took up arms and coordinated fiery attacks on Tuberville, Politico reported.
At one point, Graham displayed a photo of Laura Lenderman, slated for promotion to lieutenant general and deputy commander of Pacific Air Forces, according to Politico.
“You just denied this lady a promotion — you did that,” Graham said, making an argument that Democrats could adopt the same tactic in the future over policy disagreements with a Republican administration, according to Politico. “Who the hell wants to serve in the military when your promotion can be canned over something you have nothing to do with? … If you think it’s illegal, go to court!”
DOD officials weighed in on the fight as well.
“The world is watching. This isn’t a game,” Kelly Magsamen, chief of staff to the secretary of defense, said on social media.
The officers awaiting promotions or confirmation to new positions, including the highest ranking officers for the Air Force and Navy, now number close to 380.
“Hang in there,” Sullivan said in a message to the military officers as the night concluded, according to Politico. “We’ll be coming here every night to try to get you confirmed.”
Micaela Burrow on November 2, 2023