WASHINGTON — After blocking hundreds of promotions in the U.S. military in 2023 in protest over the Pentagon’s abortion policy, Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama said Tuesday he would revoke all but a handful of four-star general nominee promotions.

The senator, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he told his Republican colleagues in the Senate “it’s been a long fight” but ultimately said Democrats were responsible for preventing hundreds of service members from serving in the to move up the chain of command. Tuberville had repeatedly said that Democrats could ask any candidate to vote, which would require hours of debate.

“We fought hard. We did the right thing for the unborn and for our military by standing up to executive overreach and abortion policies that are not legal,” Tuberville said after giving his remarks to his Senate Republican colleagues during their regularly scheduled weekly luncheon had announced a turnaround.

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said Tuesday that he would bring the nominations to a vote “as quickly as possible, possibly later this afternoon.”

“I hope no one does this again, and I hope they have learned the lesson from Senator Tuberville. And that means he held out for many, many months, violating our national security, confusing so many military families who have dedicated so much to our country, and not getting what he wanted,” Schumer said.

Tuberville has blocked hundreds of nominees since the spring because of his opposition to a current Pentagon policy that gives military members leave and travel reimbursement if they need to have an abortion in a state where it remains legal.

According to a RAND analysis, about 80,000 active-duty female military personnel are stationed in states where legislatures have enacted full or partial bans following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The Biden administration and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin consider the policy legal, as does a 2022 statement from the Justice Department.

According to a Defense Department official, the list of candidates affected by Tuberville’s months-long detention grew to 451 service members as of Nov. 27. Senate Armed Services Committee majority staff lists 445 affected nominees.

Tuberville’s agreement to drop his protest means that all but 11 of those nominees are expected to receive final Senate approval, according to the committee’s majority staff.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday that Republican senators are “obviously pleased that this situation appears to have improved with the recent announcements from the senator from Alabama.”

Sen. Jack Reed, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement Tuesday that he was “glad that hundreds of our nation’s best military leaders are finally receiving their hard-fought, merit-based promotions.”

“They and their families have shown us what grace and courage look like in the face of hardship. “Senator Tuberville’s actions were an affront to the U.S. military and the Senate,” said Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island.

“He endangered our national security and abused the rights granted to all senators. No senator should ever try to advance their own partisan agenda on the backs of our troops in this manner again.”

Threat of procedural change under Democratic leadership

Tuberville’s change of course came as Schumer was poised to advance a Democratic-led legislative resolution to bypass the Alabama senator’s blockade.

The proposed temporary change to plenary procedure would have allowed senators to quickly approve large blocks of nominations in the plenary at the same time, saving hours and hours it would have taken to vote on each one.

Tuberville said Tuesday that he and other Republican senators had decided they did not want to see any changes to Senate procedures and that was why he decided to lift his block.

“We all oppose a rule change in the Senate, OK. We’re all against it,” Tuberville said.

The Alabama senator’s Republican colleagues have become increasingly publicly frustrated that he is delaying his military promotions.

Republican senators, including Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Todd Young of Indiana, held the Senate floor twice into the wee hours of the morning and brought forward the names of the nominees, only to counter Tuberville’s objections.

Some frustrated Republicans pondered last week whether to support the Democratic-led effort to lift the Tuberville blockade. The Democrats would have needed nine of them to pass the procedural change.

“I have said that I support Tommy Tuberville right now, but if he makes a statement that he will maintain that stance throughout this Congress, I intend to vote for nominations under the rules suspension,” Senator Thom Tillis testified North Carolina told States Newsroom Nov. 29.

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah told the state’s newsroom on November 29 that he was considering the proposal but had not yet commented.

“Hopefully we don’t get to that point,” he said.

Updated at 2:33 p.m. with comment from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Source : alabamareflector.com

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