(Bloomberg) -- Senator Tommy Tuberville has lifted his months-long holds on military promotions except for four-star generals and admirals, allowing the Senate to quickly confirm more than 400 senior officers.
Hours after Tuberville, an Alabama Republican, lifted his blockade, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer brought up military promotions for confirmation under unanimous consent, the traditional way the Senate handles these nominations.
“I am proud to congratulate 425 military officers who were just promoted in the Senate,” Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, said on the social media platform X. “There are more promotions to approve, but all Americans are safer today,” he added.
Tuberville, who has been under fire from lawmakers in both parties to end his blockade over abortion policy, had insisted the Defense Department end a policy that allows personnel to travel for abortion care if it is unavailable where they are stationed.
He released the holds after Senate Democrats proposed a temporary resolution to allow the nominations to be taken up in bulk. Most Republicans have wanted to avoid voting on that resolution, which would have risked setting a new precedent that diminishes the minority party’s power in the chamber.
President Joe Biden, in a statement on Tuesday evening, said “These confirmations are long overdue, and should never have been held up in the first place.” He added that Tuberville and other senators who supported him “needlessly hurt hundreds of service members and military families and threatened our national security – all to push a partisan agenda. I hope no one forgets what he did.”
Tuberville’s own party colleagues had become increasingly frustrated with the stonewalling and delay, raising concerns about its effects on national security and retention of senior officers. Pentagon officials have seized on Tuberville’s holds, which have persisted since February, as dangerous and an unnecessary risk that harmed military families.
Earlier: Pentagon No. 2 Says Political Dysfunction Undermines US Forces
About 10 four-star generals and admirals are still affected by the holds, Alaska Republican Senator Dan Sullivan said earlier Tuesday. But the Senate could approve those nominees individually before leaving for the Christmas holiday.
“Our top top leaders need to be vetted,” Tuberville,said of the remaining holds.
Among the nominees for four-star slots are the commanders of Pacific Air Forces and the US Pacific fleet, key positions in the US strategic competition with China. The nominated commanders of Air Combat Command and Northern Command also await confirmation.
Sullivan and other Republicans have also warned that Tuberville’s prolonged hold risked losing nominated generals and admirals, who could choose instead to quit and join the private sector, where they can make more money.
--With assistance from Erik Wasson and Jennifer Jacobs.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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