Senate Panel Has New Plan to Bypass Tuberville’s Blockage on Military Nominees

Stephen Katte
By Stephen Katte
November 14, 2023Congress
Senate Panel Has New Plan to Bypass Tuberville’s Blockage on Military Nominees
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) (C) talks to reporters with Sen. Patty Murray (D_WA) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) following the weekly Senate Democratic policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Nov. 7, 2023. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Senate Rules Committee aims to pass a standing order resolution through the Senate on Tuesday to confirm more than 350 nonpolitical military promotions at once, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has announced.

If the Senate vote on the resolution is successful, it would circumvent Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), who has been blocking the action by using the Senate prerogative of the informal “hold” practice.

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.

First reported in The Hill, Mr. Schumer has said he will bring the standing order resolution, worked on by Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed (D-RI), to the Senate floor for a vote once the Rules Committee has approved the measure.

“If Sen. Tuberville continues his blanket holds on military nominations, if he won’t even listen to members of his own side of the aisle, I will bring Sen. Reed’s resolution to the floor for a vote as soon as possible,” Mr. Schumer said.

“That way, we can end Sen. Tuberville’s farce and quickly confirm the over 350 military promotions.”

Mr. Tuberville has maintained for the last nine months during his blocking protest that the DOD policy runs afoul of existing federal law, which 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.

NTD Photo
Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) in Washington on Nov. 9, 2020. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

“The Pentagon is now paying for travel and extra time off for service members and their dependents to get abortions. Congress never voted for this,” Mr. Tuberville previously said.

“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.”

Tuberville Not Backing Down, Fellow Republicans Write Letter of Support

Mr. Tuberville has remained firm on his position the entire time, and said 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 Senate can’t use its unanimous consent rules to confirm multiple military promotions and nominations in a single vote until Sen. Tuberville’s “Hold” is lifted or bypassed. However, the body can still confirm individual military nominees through routine procedures, although this opens up the floor for debate on the individual nominees, which can make the process take far longer than average.

It remains to be seen whether Mr. Schumer will get the nine Republican votes needed for the resolution to pass the Senate. Senate Democrats have been unified in opposing Mr. Tuberville’s efforts. Senate Republicans have been mixed, with many supporting the tactic, but few have expressed concern about the military officers awaiting Senate action on their promotions and nominations.

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

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a press conference on border security at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, on Sept. 27, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

“You have broken your promise to the American people not to politicize the military, and your actions have harmed and threaten to further harm institutional norms within our democracy,” the senators write.

They argue that all legislative power is vested in Congress, and the executive branch is responsible for implementing and enforcing the law. While the DOD may issue regulations, it can only do so under the laws authorized and enacted by Congress. They also say that Congress never authorized the DOD to expend funds to facilitate abortions.

“Now, taxpayers—many of whom have deeply-held religious and moral objections to abortions—are on the hook to facilitate the very abortions they fundamentally oppose,” the letter says.

“Much has been made in the press about one senator’s decision to try and stop your egregious wrongs, without acknowledging the Senate majority leader’s refusal to bring general and flag officer nominations to the floor until forced to by Republicans.”

The senators further argue that seeking to circumvent the Senate prerogative of the informal “hold” practice being used by Sen. Tuberville, without addressing the underlying cause, will not “not ultimately reconcile this matter.”

“It could create a toxic precedent with lasting negative effects on future military nominations,” the letter warns.

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.

Ryan Morgan contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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