The Senate overwhelmingly voted Thursday evening to confirm Air Force Gen. C.Q. Brown to be next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, breaking a months-long blockade on military nominations by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL).
Brown was confirmed by a vote of 83-10. Tuberville was among the Republicans who voted no.
The vote came just days before current Joint Chiefs Chair Mark Milley is due to retire on October 1.
Brown’s nomination had been one of more than 300 nominations blockaded by Tuberville until the government agrees to his demand that it stop paying for service members to travel across state lines to obtain abortions. He has remained unwilling to budge from his ongoing blockade of military promotions despite even a growing number of Republicans voicing their disapproval of his actions.
On Thursday, though, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture to advance the nominations of officers in three top military positions: Brown, Gen. Eric Smith to be Marine Corps Commandant, and Gen. Randy George to be Army Chief of Staff.
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.”
At his current rate, Tuberville is on track to potentially obstruct more than 650 military nominations and promotions by the end of December. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has called Tuberville’s actions “unprecedented,” “unnecessary” and “unsafe.”
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.
While some Senate Democrats have called for one-off votes for top nominations like that of Brown, while at the same time voicing skepticism that it’s a practical solution to the entire situation. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois noted that individual votes on military nominations 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.”