Schumer forwarding more military nominations despite Tuberville block

November 1, 2023

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) moved forward with three more military nominations on Tuesday despite a months-long block on confirmations by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL).

Schumer filed cloture on the nominations of Adm. Lisa Franchetti for Chief of Naval Operations, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin for Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney for Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.

The move came two days after Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith—who was confirmed in September following a previous forward press by Schumer—was hospitalized Sunday due to a medical emergency.

Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl is currently performing the duties of Marine Commandant in Smith’s absence.

“The situation at the Marine Corps is precisely the kind of avoidable emergency that Senator Tuberville has provoked through his blanket holds,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday.

Tuberville has so far blocked more than 300 nominations amid his demand that the government stop paying for service members to travel across state lines to obtain abortions. The number could grow to 650 by the end of December as Tuberville 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.”

Despite his hundreds of blocks, on Tuesday Tuberville did move to force Mahoney’s confirmation to the Marine Assistant Commandant position in the wake of Gen. Smith’s medical emergency.

While several Senate Democrats have called for one-off votes for several top military nominations, at the same time they’ve voiced skepticism against its being a practical solution to the entire situation. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois has noted that individual votes on military nominations could potentially take up “over 100 days on the Senate calendar.”

And Schumer has noted, “If everyone objected to everything to get leverage for their pet priorities, it will grind this body to a halt.”

Several Senators from both sides of the aisle last week pressed for the chamber to utilize a rare procedural tactic, a standing order resolution to move the block on the hundreds of stalled nominees. It would allow promotions to move in groups of numerous nominees through the end of 2024, providing exceptions for some of the very top-brass positions.

“It’s not a rules change, it’s a standing order resolution because no one wants to fool around with the rules,” a Democratic Senator told The Hill on condition of anonymity.

In the meantime, Pentagon leadership roles have had to be significantly reshuffled because of Tuberville’s hold. Many senior military officers are performing two jobs as they await promotion, and some key positions are being held by more junior officers because a more senior officer has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.

In September, Gen. Smith, who had been working two jobs before his promotion was confirmed, warned that the situation was “unsustainable.”

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