Senate Democrats work to circumvent Tuberville’s blockade on military nominees as vacancies grow

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters about support for Israel following a closed-door caucus meeting, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are trying a new workaround to confirm hundreds of military officers blocked by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, ten months after the Alabama Republican first said he would object to the nominations over a Pentagon abortion policy.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday that the Senate will consider a resolution in the near future that would allow the quick confirmation of the now nearly 400 officers up for promotion or nominated for another senior job. The Senate is currently at a stalemate on the nominations because Tuberville is objecting to the routine process of confirming the nominations all at once by unanimous consent, and voting on them individually could monopolize weeks or months of the Senate’s time.


Schumer separately moved to hold confirmation votes as soon as Thursday on three top Pentagon officers affected by the holds — Adm. Lisa Franchetti to be the chief of naval operations, Gen. David Allvin to be chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force and Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney to serve as assistant commandant for the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Senate maneuvers come amid a new war in Israel and as members of both parties are growing increasingly frustrated with Tuberville’s holds. Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, a Republican, had gathered enough signatures to force a vote on Franchetti and Allvin and spoke out in frustration about the issue at the weekly GOP lunch on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with Sullivan’s comments who requested anonymity to discuss the closed-door meeting.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said after the lunch that the holds are “a bad idea” and said he’d tried to convince the Alabama Republican to express his opposition some other way.

The resolution by Senate Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona would tweak the rules until the end of this session of Congress next year to allow a process for the Senate to pass multiple military nominations together. It would not apply to other nominations.

To go into effect, the Senate Rules Committee will have to consider the temporary rules change and send it to the Senate floor, where the full Senate would have to vote to approve it. That process could take several weeks and would likely need Republican support to succeed.

Tuberville said he disagrees with the effort to try to get around his hold and and pass the nominations in large groups, arguing that the workaround would “burn the city down” and take away one of the only powers that the minority party has.

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