WASHINGTON – Democrats in the U.S. Senate are mulling a strategy to get around Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s months-long ban on hundreds of military promotions in protest of a Pentagon abortion policy approved after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
The Alabama Republican has refused to join other senators in the routine effort to advance large groups of military nominees through a quick, unanimous approval process.
Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is working on a resolution to temporarily change Senate rules to allow time-saving roll-call votes on large groups of nominees rather than bringing them to the floor one at a time.
In September, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer brought three of the hundreds of nominees to the floor for a roll call vote, including Gen. Charles Q. Brown for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
According to the Pentagon, 378 nominations are on hold as of Thursday. That number could rise to 650 by the end of the year if Tuberville doesn’t lift the freeze.
“We need to get our personnel certified because this is an extraordinary readiness issue,” Reed told the States newsroom on Thursday. “Given the conflicts in Israel and Ukraine, things are getting worse and worse. Therefore, there will be efforts to advance the resolution.”
The text of the resolution is not yet finalized, but it is expected to be presented to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration as early as next week, a congressional staffer said.
Among the military promotions blocked by Tuberville are Admiral Lisa Franchetti, the first woman nominated to lead the U.S. Navy, and Gen. David W. Allvin, nominated to be the next Air Force chief of staff.
Tuberville likened Reed’s idea to an attempt to “burn down the Senate.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. When you’re in the minority, whether Democrat or Republican, getting the other group’s attention is the only power you have,” he told reporters Thursday. “If they abolish it, we might as well stay home, or the minority stay home because (the majority) can do whatever they want.”
“You can’t overlook the minority. “You have to give them some say, and that would take them away,” said Tuberville, who also sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
According to the congressional counsel, the rule change, if adopted, would expire at the end of the 118th Congress.
It is unclear whether the proposal would gain enough support to pass the upper house.
The bill would need 60 votes to pass a procedural vote before going to trial. Democrats hold a narrow majority in the Senate, which is split 51-49, as the three independents caucus with Democrats.
Defense abortion policy
The Tuberville blockade came in protest against a Defense Department policy that provides leave and travel allowances to military personnel seeking abortions in areas of the country where it remains legal.
Tuberville believes the ministry’s policy is illegal. The Pentagon and the Biden administration categorically reject this claim.
The Pentagon announced the policy less than a year after the Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion. The court’s decision sparked a patchwork of state abortion laws.
In September 2022, the RAND Corporation, a think tank that has long conducted defense research, released a study showing that 80,000 active-duty female soldiers are stationed in states where lawmakers have enacted full or partial bans.
Jennifer Shutt contributed to this report.
Source : alabamareflector.com