Schumer Vows to Advance Measure to Bypass Tuberville’s Hold on Military Promotions

Rules Committee has approved a resolution allowing the Senate to vote on bypassing Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s block on mass nonpolitical military promotions.
Schumer Vows to Advance Measure to Bypass Tuberville’s Hold on Military Promotions
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) speaks at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on Dec. 7, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Stephen Katte

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has revealed the Rules Committee approved a resolution allowing the Senate to confirm more than 350 nonpolitical military promotions at once.

In a Nov. 27 statement, Mr. Schumer said he would bring the resolution to the floor in the coming weeks to bypass Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), who has been blocking the promotions by using the Senate prerogative of the informal “hold” practice.

The Senate can’t use its unanimous consent rules to confirm multiple military promotions and nominations in a single vote until Mr. Tuberville’s “hold” is lifted or bypassed. The body can still confirm individual military nominees through routine procedures, although this opens up the floor for debate on the individual nominees, making the process take far longer than average.

“In the coming weeks, I will bring a resolution to the floor approved by the Rules Committee allowing the Senate to quickly confirm the hundreds of military leaders that Senator Tuberville has obstructed,” Mr. Schumer said.

“Before the end of the year, the Senate must put a stop to a grave abuse carried out by the Senior Senator from Alabama: the brazen, months and months long blockade of over 350 military nominees,” he added.

Tuberville Not Backing Down

Since February, Mr. Tuberville has objected to the unanimous consent requests for all military and civilian promotion nominees. The move has been part of an ongoing protest against the Department of Defense (DOD) and its policy of covering travel costs for service members to obtain an abortion out of state.
Mr. Tuberville has maintained during his blocking protest that the DOD policy goes against existing federal law. Specifically, he points to a law that prohibits federal funds from going to abortions, except in cases where a pregnancy comes as a result of rape, incest, or threatens the life of the mother.

He has also raised concerns that the U.S. government is paying for travel and extra time off for service members and their dependents to get abortions, an action that Congress did not vote on.

“We also never appropriated the money for this. There is no law that allows them to do this. In fact, there is a law that says they can’t do this,” Mr. Tuberville has said about the matter in the past.

He has remained firm that he will keep blocking unanimous consent confirmation votes until either the DOD withdraws the abortion-related travel policy or Congress passes legislation expressly permitting federal funds to go toward abortion-related travel.

The Epoch Times contacted Mr. Tuberville’s office for further comment.

Schumer Might Not Have Enough Support

It remains to be seen whether Mr. Schumer will get the nine Republican votes needed for the resolution to pass the Senate. In his statement, he called upon Republicans who “care about military preparedness” to support the resolution “or at least get Senator Tuberville to back down.”

According to Mr. Schumer, “We’ve gone too far already,” and public officials in the Senate have “an obligation to act” because the current situation is “an anomaly in the history of the Senate.”

“If every Senator did what Senator Tuberville has done, and held up military confirmations because of this or that partisan issue, no matter how deeply felt, it would grind the Senate to a halt,” Mr. Schumer said.

“It would be a catastrophe for our military,” he added.

It’s worth noting that tactics to block legislation in the Senate are nothing new. The filibuster, a political procedure where a member prolongs debate on proposed legislation to delay or entirely prevent a decision, has been used since the 1800s. It’s still used in the modern era as well. Common filibusters involve reading books or old speeches.

The late former Gov. Strom Thurmond (D-S.C.) still has the record for the longest filibuster ever at 24 hours and 18 minutes, when he was trying to prevent the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

Mr. Schumer also claims that at this point, members on both “sides of the aisle are reaching a boiling point” over Mr. Tuberville’s actions.

Senate Democrats have been unified in opposing Mr. Tuberville’s efforts in trying to overturn the DOD’s policy. Senate Republicans have been mixed. Many support the “hold” tactic, but a few have expressed concern about the military officers awaiting Senate action on their promotions and nominations. Earlier this month, four Republican Senators again pressed Mr. Tuberville to relax his hold on military nominations.
However, in a show of support for Mr. Tuberville, 27 Republicans in the Senate sent a Nov. 13 letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, demanding that he rescind the abortion travel policy, reported The Daily Signal. Republicans currently hold 49 seats in the Senate.

Sen. Ted Budd, (R-N.C.) led the effort to create the letter. Among the signatories are senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).

If passed, the standing order resolution would change Senate procedure for confirming nonpolitical military promotions for the rest of the 118th Congress. The resolution would not apply to high-level leaders such as Joint Chiefs of Staff members.