A display outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023, shows placards with information on military officers whose promotions have been held by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., who is demanding the Pentagon change a policy on abortion before the promotions are approved. (Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes)
WASHINGTON — The Senate is set to break a monthslong deadlock over senior military promotions Wednesday by holding procedural votes on three top Pentagon nominees blocked from advancement by Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he will attempt to secure the confirmations of to be the next chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, to be Army chief of staff and to be the commandant of the Marine Corps.
If Tuberville objects to moving forward, the Senate will stay in session Friday and possibly Saturday until the three Joint Chiefs are confirmed, Schumer said. The Senate is scheduled to depart Capitol Hill on Thursday afternoon.
“Due to the extraordinary circumstances of Sen. Tuberville’s reckless decisions, Democrats will take action,” Schumer said. “It’s not the path the vast majority of senators on either side of the aisle want to go down, but Sen. Tuberville is forcing us to confront his obstruction head-on.”
Schumer has for months refused to hold individual votes on military officer nominees but appears to have changed his mind after Tuberville indicated this week that he would try to force a vote on the floor for Smith, a rare move for a member of the minority party.
Tuberville began his in protest of a Pentagon policy that provides leave and reimburses travel costs for service members who want to travel to obtain an abortion or other reproductive health care. He has argued the policy violates the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortions.
The Pentagon has refused to rescind the policy, arguing it is legal and provides access to critical care for service members and dependents stationed in states that have outlawed abortions.
Tuberville’s hold prevents the Senate from voting on military nominees in batches via unanimous consent voice votes but does not prevent the chamber from holding individual roll call votes. The potential confirmation of Brown, George and Smith would still leave more than 300 officers ensnared in Tuberville’s block.