In a vote on the evening of Sept. 20, the Senate confirmed U.S. Air Force Chief General Charles Q. (CQ) Brown, Jr. as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
It wasn’t a close call. 83 senators voted to confirm him, while just 11 voted against his nomination.
The vote comes as Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) maintains a hold to block mass nominations and promotions of military officials through unanimous consent votes. He objects to a Pentagon policy whereby service-members receive pay for travel to receive abortions.
Sen. Tuberville and other Republicans contend that the policy violates the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funds from going towards most abortions. The Department of Health and Human Services maintains that the amendment doesn’t cover transportation, making it legal.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) filed a cloture motion on Wednesday afternoon to advance votes on Gen. Brown and two other nominees for top military roles, ahead of an expected cloture maneuver by Sen. Tuberville for Gen. Eric Smith’s nomination as the next commandant of the Marine Corps.
In a post on X, Sen. Schumer said that Sen. Tuberville was “trying to make himself the gatekeeper of which officers are promoted or languish.”
“We can’t allow this to continue. We’re taking action,” he said.
In an interview with The Epoch Times ahead of the closely watched confirmation, Sen. Tuberville didn’t sound too displeased with the anticipated outcome of that vote.
“I think he’ll be good. I don’t like some of the comments he made recently but he’s an advisor. He doesn’t control any of the military,” he said.
The Air Force commanding officer came under fire during a July confirmation hearing over a 2022 memo he co-authored outlining specific percentages of races as targets for officer recruiting by the Air Force. His Republican critics see the memo as an example of creeping diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policies in the military—ones they believe are fueling an armed forces recruiting crisis.
Sen. Tuberville told The Epoch Times that he isn’t finished blocking mass military promotions. That’s a continuing source of friction between the lawmaker and Democrats, as well as some top military brass.
“It’s like 1/200th of the problem but we’re getting there,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) in an interview with The Epoch Times prior to the confirmation vote.
He confirmed that he was referring to Sen. Tuberville’s hold.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) expressed similar sentiment, telling The Epoch Times, “I’m very pleased we were able to get him [Gen. Brown] confirmed. But, obviously, we need to get another almost 300 confirmed. And this process that’s been caused by one senator needs to end.”
“We ought to be confirming everybody,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) told The Epoch Times.
While Democrats and some military leaders have criticized Sen. Tuberville’s maneuver, arguing that it undermines national security, the Alabaman who once coached football at Auburn University has pointed out that his opponents can make other plays–specifically, by scheduling votes on individual nominees rather than the hold, which is only preventing votes on large batches of nominees.
Like his Democratic colleague from Maryland, Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said he was “pleased” ahead of Gen. Brown’s confirmation.
“He’s good to work with [and] extremely knowledgeable. I think he’s a very strong and a good choice to be the chairman, and so I’m glad to support him and continue to work with him,” the lawmaker said.
When asked about conservatives’ concerns regarding Mr. Brown, Jr.’s support for “woke” DEI initiatives, Sen. Hoeven said the general “understands that this is about having the very best military that we can possibly have.”
Sen. Hoeven struck a softer pose than his colleague from Alabama on the delays of military promotions.
“I’m pro-life, and I believe the military needs to follow the Hyde Amendment. That is the law, and we need to get that figured out … But I want to get confirmations moving,” he said.
Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) was more critical of Gen. Brown.
“The military is taking on more and more woke policies. He has been supportive of things like Black Lives Matter, and that organization turned out to be financially corrupt,” she told The Epoch Times.
“The woke policies in the military are demoralizing the military,” she added.
“Telling white men that, ‘Welcome to the military. Because of the color of your skin and your sex, you will never advance in the military, just forget about it;’ I mean, they’ve been told that, and that’s not going to help produce a high-performing military,” she continued.
President Joe Biden first nominated Gen. Brown to the position in May of this year.
In a speech announcing the move, President Biden said the commanding officer was “unafraid to speak his mind as someone who will deliver an honest message that needs to be heard and will always do the right thing even when it’s hard.”
“That’s the No. 1 quality a president needs in a chairman,” he added.
Jackson Richman and Ryusuke Abe contributed to this story.
From The Epoch Times