Senate to weigh rule change to stop Tuberville’s military blocks

November 7, 2023

The Senate Republican conference on Tuesday was set to hold a special meeting to discuss the blockade by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) against hundreds of military promotions. 

The meeting comes one week before the Senate Rules Committee has scheduled a vote to establish a standing order for the remainder of the 118th Congressional term to provide for the en bloc consideration of military nominations, with the exception of nominees to highest positions, such as the Joint Chiefs of Staff commanders.

That vote is set for next Tuesday, November 14.

According to Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), “This vote in the Rules Committee will allow us to finally move forward with military confirmations, filling critical positions and protecting our military readiness.”

Tuberville has so far blocked more than 370 military 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 if the Senate continues as-is.

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.”

And as Tuberville has remained unwilling to budge, his fellow Republicans have grown increasingly desperate to find a solution.

Last week, after months of holding their grievances in check, several Senate Republicans erupted in anger on the chamber floor over Tuberville’s intransigence, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) accusing him of “doing great damage to our military.”

And Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) led an effort to call for 61 promotions to be advanced. Tuberville objected to each of them.

“Xi Jinping is loving this. So is Putin,” Sullivan said at one point, referring to the Presidents of China and Russia. “How dumb can we be, man?”

Tuberville responded, “We’re not going to start backing up now just because people are starting to get cold feet.”

This week, Sullivan said, “I’m hopeful that we’re going to get a good way forward and a resolution. That’s what the point of [Tuesday’s Republican] conference is.”

Sullivan added that he has reached out to Biden Administration officials, including some at the Pentagon, in an attempt to figure out a way forward.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) has said he expects Tuesday’s meeting among the GOP conference to be “a very free-flowing discussion about what the endgame is.”

“There’s strong feelings on the subject, and I hope coming out of the conference we have a path forward,” Thune said.

PHOTO: Tuberville on Senate floor in July

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