Senate Democrats Press McConnell to End Tuberville’s Military Blocks

July 24, 2023

A group of Senate Democrats have written Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urging him to exercise his authority to “prevail” upon Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) to end his block of military promotions. 

“We write you today to share our deep concern for the stability of our Armed Services and national security and call on you to exercise your leadership to protect the readiness of our military,” said the letter.

It goes on to say, “We know you share our concerns about the consequences of this hold on our Armed Services, and as the leader of your conference, we urge you to take stronger action to resolve this situation.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) along with Angus King (I-ME). 

All serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee with Tuberville. The Alabama Republican has blocked hundreds of military nominations from moving forward because he believes the Pentagon is improperly using government funding to cover travel costs for abortions for service members and their dependents.

Because of Tuberville’s actions, the U.S. Marine Corp is currently without a commandant for the first time since 1910. Gen. David Berger stepped down from that position on Monday with no permanent successor to whom he could hand off the position.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr., who’s been nominated to replace Gen. Mark Milley as Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has warned that Tuberville’s efforts would have far-reaching effects.

“We will lose talent,” Brown has told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

He added that Tuberville’s blockade could impact the troops’ “progression in their career field potentially, because if one doesn’t get promoted or move on, then they’re blocking a spot for someone else.”

McConnell press secretary Doug Andres responded to reporting about the Democrats’ letter by tweeting, “Did Democrats forget that they’re in the majority and control the floor?”

He added, “Tfw [The feeling when] you forget Schumer is the majority leader.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) last week signaled openness to giving Tuberville a standalone vote affirming the Pentagon’s reproductive health policy, but he put the onus on Senate Republicans to find a path forward.

“Tuberville said he wanted a vote, we’ll see what happens. The bottom line is it’s up to the Republican leadership,” Schumer told reporters last week.

“I think holding the military personnel who have nothing to do with policy in order to try to dictate a policy change that I personally support is not the best way to go about it,” McConnell said earlier this month. “But as you can see…[Tuberville] has a different point of view.”

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