Schumer schedules votes on 3 military nominees amid Tuberville blockade

September 20, 2023

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture Wednesday to advance the nominations of officers in three top military positions, in a circumvention of a political blockade by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL). 

The nominations are those of Gen. Eric Smith to be Marine Corps Commandant, Gen. Randy George to be Army Chief of Staff and Gen. Charles “C.Q.” Brown to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Tuberville has said he would only release the holds if the government stops paying for service members to travel across state lines to obtain abortions. He has remained unwilling to budge from his ongoing blockade even amid a growing number of Republicans voicing their disapproval of his actions.

One Senator on the Senate Armed Services Committee—in this case, Tuberville—is able to hold up potentially countless military promotions through a Senate procedure called “unanimous consent.”

Schumer and top Democrats had held off holding individual votes on top military brass amid worries it would start a slippery slope on such nominations, which are usually done as a whole grouping and are noncontroversial.

Some Democrats on the Armed Services Committee, though, have voiced a desire to take one-off votes, particularly in the case of Gen. Brown ahead of current Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley’s term ending on October 1.

“I want to do what’s in the best interest of our national security,” Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) has said. Noting that holding individual votes for the hundreds of blocked nominations is “not practical,” He added, “But for General Brown, you know, it certainly makes sense to get him confirmed.”

On Wednesday, Schumer said, “The Senate should not have to go through procedural hoops just to please one brazen and misguided Senator, but this is where we are.”

The Majority Leader added, “Simply put, besides the most extreme elements of the Republican Party, no one thinks this is a good idea, and in the face of that opposition, it seems that Senator Tuberville is becoming more and more desperate to get out of the box he put himself in.”

Schumer insisted that the blame “falls squarely on the shoulders of the senior Senator from Alabama.”

More than 300 nominations have been held up so far this year, and that number could potentially reach 650 by the end of December. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has called Tuberville’s actions “unprecedented,” “unnecessary” and “unsafe.”

Even so, other Senate Democrats have voiced skepticism similar to Kelly’s regarding taking votes on the military nominees one at a time, which Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois noted could potentially take up “over 100 days on the Senate calendar.”

“This is not a solution to [Tuberville’s] challenge,” Durbin added. “It really is going to drag this out at the expense of everything else that needs to be done in the Senate.”

PHOTO: Schumer on the Senate floor Tuesday

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