The Senate voted to confirm three top military leaders in the last two days, its first significant action to bypass Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s monthslong blockade on military promotions.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted 83-11 to confirm Gen. Charles “C.Q." Brown Jr. as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff hours after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., moved to advance military nominees who have been impacted by Tuberville's hold.
Lawmakers on Thursday voted overwhelmingly (96-1) to confirm Gen. Randy George to serve as as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army and Gen. Eric Smith (96-0) to serve as commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Since February, Tuberville has single-handedly been holding up all military confirmations in protest of a Pentagon policy offering time off and travel reimbursements for service members who need to go out of state for abortions following the Supreme Court’s ruling last year overturning Roe v. Wade.
As a result, roughly 300 nominees have been left waiting, and three of the five military branches — the Army, Navy and Marine Corps — lack Senate-confirmed staff chiefs, leaving acting officials with limited powers in place.
Democrats, including President Joe Biden, military leaders and advocates alike have called on Tuberville to drop his hold on military confirmations, arguing that it is impacting the country's military readiness.
Tuberville, notably, voted against Brown on Wednesday evening, one of just a handful to oppose the decorated Air Force general's nomination.
Schumer took this action before Tuberville was reportedly set to put forward a motion aiming to force a vote on Smith’s nomination.
In remarks on the Senate floor, Schumer laid the blame firmly at the feet of the Alabama senator, saying that the chamber is “confronting his obstruction head on.”
“Due to the extraordinary circumstances of Sen. Tuberville's reckless decisions, Democrats will take action,” Schumer said Wednesday. The New York Democrat said that he will seek to shorten the timeline for the votes and warned that the chamber will stay in session through the weekend until all three nominees are confirmed.
“For the information of all senators, now that I have filed these motions, I will request consent to collapse the time and hold these votes later this afternoon,” he said said. “I hope Sen. Tuberville does not object, but if he does, senators should expect votes on Friday, and possibly Saturday, to finish consideration of these nominations.”
“I hope the senator will not object,” Schumer added. “But if he does, we’ll stay until we get them done.”
Tuberville has previously said he won’t end the hold until there is a vote on the Pentagon policy; his office has noted the Senate can still confirm the nominees by holding votes on each one. Democrats have argued that such a process would be incredibly time-consuming; Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, told reporters that “taking these promotions one at a time would cost over 100 days on the Senate calendar.”
“In the end, the Senate will overwhelmingly vote to overcome Sen. Tuberville’s blockade of these three nominees by voting for cloture,” Schumer said. "Then the Senate will overwhelmingly vote to confirm them, and these three honorable men will finally be able to assume their positions, and the abortion policy that Sen. Tuberville abhors will remain in place.”
“Sen. Tuberville will have accomplished nothing.”