A group of Senate Republicans led by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) have made a bold move to overcome Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) blockade of more than 370 military nominations. This marks the first time GOP members have attempted such a maneuver. The nominations sought to include promotions for military officers, but Tuberville has been holding them for nearly eight months due to his objection to the Pentagon’s year-old policy regarding travel expenses for military personnel seeking abortion care.
Sen. Sullivan, a 30-year Marine Corps veteran, expressed the urgency of the situation, emphasizing that the current holds are greatly impeding readiness and would ultimately impact 89 percent of all general officer positions in the military by the end of the year. Sullivan stressed that these holds are negatively affecting military readiness and retention and that the soldiers, who have served the country well, should not be punished over a policy dispute they have no power to resolve.
Joining Sullivan on the floor were Republican Sens. Joni Ernst, Lindsey Graham, Todd Young, and Mitt Romney, all of whom have a military background except for Romney. The pressure to resolve the issue has increased in recent weeks, particularly due to the attack on Israel by Hamas and concerns about readiness in certain parts of the world.
Sen. Tuberville, however, remains firm in his stance, stating that he will only release his holds if the Pentagon changes their policy and the Senate takes a vote on it. Tuberville claims that the policy is both illegal and immoral and believes a vote should have already been held on the nominees. Despite potential support for the nominees, Tuberville is adamant about maintaining his holds. He also expressed discontent that no Biden administration official has reached out to negotiate a resolution.
In response to Tuberville's continued obstruction, Democrats are planning to advance a bloc of over 300 nonpolitical military nominees through a standing order resolution. This move aims to expedite the approval process for these nominees by the end of 2024, with the exception of officers nominated for high-ranking positions.
The frustration is growing on both sides of the aisle, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expressing that patience is wearing thin. Schumer is considering when to move forward with the resolution proposed by the Democrats.
Efforts to advance nominees via unanimous consent have been made at least a dozen times prior, all initiated by Democrats. The Senate is expected to act on three individual nominations in the coming days, including positions within the Joint Chiefs.
The standoff over these nominations continues, leaving the fate of numerous military promotions uncertain and raising questions about the normalcy of policy-related objections stalling individual promotions in the future.