The Senate on Thursday confirmed Adm. Lisa Franchetti to U.S. Chief of Naval Operations—the first woman promoted to that position—despite a months-long block on military nominations by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL).
Franchetti’s confirmation, along with that of Gen. David Allvin as Air Force Chief of Staff, easily passed the Senate by a vote of 95-1. Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) was the lone “no” vote.
In a third vote Thursday, the Senate confirmed Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney to be the second ranking officer in the Marine Corps, 86-0.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had filed for cloture to press forward on the three officers’ nominations on Wednesday, a move that took on a new urgency after Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith—who was confirmed in September following a previous forward press by Schumer—was hospitalized Sunday after an apparent heart attack.
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.”
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.
Tuberville has remained unwilling to budge from his ongoing blockade of military promotions despite even a growing number of fellow Republicans voicing their disapproval of his actions.
On Wednesday, several of Tuberville’s fellow Senate Republicans erupted in anger on the chamber floor over his intransigence, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) accusing Tuberville of “doing great damage to our military.”
“Xi Jinping is loving this. So is Putin,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) said at one point, referring to the Presidents of China and Russia. “How dumb can we be, man?”
But Tuberville dug in, insisting, “We’re not going to start backing up now just because people are starting to get cold feet.”
When confronted by reporters In the halls of Congress on Thursday, Tuberville dismissed Gen. Smith’s apparent heart attack by saying, when told Smith had been working 18-hour days to cover two jobs, that he did the same when he was a football coach.
“Come on. Give me a break. This guy’s going to work 18-20 hours no matter what. That’s what we do. You know, I did that for years,” Tuberville told CNN.