On Thursday the Senate voted to confirm Gen. Randy George as Army Chief of Staff, circumventing a block on military nominations by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL).
George’s confirmation was approved by a resounding vote of 96-1 in the upper chamber.
The Army General’s was the second confirmation by the Senate after Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture to advance the nominations of officers in three top military positions. On Wednesday evening, Air Force Gen. C.Q. Brown was confirmed to replace Gen. Mark Milley as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the end of October. Following George’s confirmation, the Senate is next set to vote on Gen. Eric Smith to be Marine Corps Commandant.
The top brass have been among 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.
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, or “en bloc,” and are noncontroversial.
Some Senate Democrats have called for one-off votes for top nominations 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.”
And Schumer has noted, “If everyone objected to everything to get leverage for their pet priorities, it will grind this body to a halt.”