© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) speaks to reporters en route to the Senate for a procedural vote on senior military personnel at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 20, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Rules Committee voted along party lines on Tuesday to advance legislation that would clear the way for hundreds of military promotions that a Republican has delayed in protest over the Defense Department’s abortion policy.

The panel voted 9-7 to send the resolution to the full Senate for a vote. Although Democrats hold a 51-seat majority in the 100-member chamber, it was not certain whether the rule would take effect because Senate rules require the Senate to get 60 votes to advance.

Senate Democrats wrote the legislation in response to Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s refusal since February to allow fast-track approval of most promotions of generals, admirals and other senior military officials to protest the Pentagon’s policy of abortion travel expenses for service members and dependents to take over.

The resolution would temporarily circumvent Tuberville’s reservations by allowing the Senate to consider multiple promotions at once if they have already been approved by the Armed Services Committee.

Under Senate rules, a lawmaker can withhold nominations even if all the other 99 want quick action. The Tuberville blockade was met with opposition from some Republicans and Democrats. They believe he should make his point on a political issue by targeting politically active candidates, not punishing military personnel who deserve a promotion.

Last summer, Tuberville’s campaign left the Marine Corps without a commander for the first time in more than 100 years. In his latest blockade, the senator last week objected to the promotion of 364 officials.

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