Schumer Folds to Tuberville’s Hold, Joint Chiefs of Staff To Be Confirmed by End of Week

‘This is not a sustainable path,’ Senator Schumer says. ‘Senator Tuberville’s continued abuse of his privilege will continue to disrupt the lives of hundreds of our nation’s finest and most dedicated military officers and their families.’

AP/Alex Brandon
Senator Schumer speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill, May 16, 2023. AP/Alex Brandon

The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, has caved to Senator Tuberville by bringing votes on the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the floor despite Mr. Tuberville’s blockade on military appointments and promotions due to the Pentagon’s abortion policy.

Late Wednesday, the Senate confirmed General Charles “CQ” Brown as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in an 83-to-11 vote. He will replace the outgoing chairman, General Mark Milley, who retires at the end of September.

The Senate is also expected to vote later this week on the nominations of General Randy George to serve as Army chief of staff and General Eric Smith for commandant of the Marine Corps.

While the confirmation of the new leadership will help deal with staffing issues at the highest levels of military command, hundreds of appointees at lower levels are awaiting confirmation.

Mr. Tuberville, in maintaining his hold, is pushing to have the Pentagon change its policy of reimbursing service members for travel expenses incurred if they have to travel out of state to receive abortions. 

The vote came after Mr. Tuberville threatened to bring a cloture petition to the floor to force a vote on another nominee. Mr. Schumer preempted Mr. Tuberville by scheduling a vote on General Brown.

As reported by Punchbowl News, Mr. Tuberville moved to submit the cloture petition due to internal pressure from fellow Republicans, who were beginning to worry that Mr. Tuberville’s block was affecting military readiness.

Following the vote on General Brown, Messrs. Schumer and Tuberville each immediately moved to spin the vote. Mr. Schumer highlighted that the Senate “overwhelmingly overcame Senator Tuberville’s blockade” in confirming General Brown and accused Mr. Tuberville of abusing his power.

“This is not a sustainable path,” Mr. Schumer said. “Senator Tuberville’s continued abuse of his privilege will continue to disrupt the lives of hundreds of our nation’s finest and most dedicated military officers and their families.”

Mr. Schumer added that “while Democrats didn’t choose this fight, we are ready to put an end to this sooner rather than later.”

Mr. Tuberville let loose a string of X posts touting that Mr. Schumer decided to bring the nomination to the floor despite months of saying he did not want to set the precedent that one senator could block nominations and force lengthy individual votes. 

Mr. Tuberville also criticized Democrats on the Senate floor, saying that “this hold is not affecting readiness” and that, “We don’t have a lack of leadership in our military. We have a lack of leadership right here in the U.S. Senate.”

“My hold is still in place. The hold will remain in place as long as the Pentagon’s illegal abortion policy remains in place,” Mr. Tuberville said on the Senate floor. “If the Pentagon lifts the policy, then I will lift my hold. It’s as easy as that.”

Despite the vote, Mr. Tuberville is no closer to achieving his goal. It’s not yet clear whether Mr. Schumer plans to hold votes on the hundreds of nominees still outstanding. Mr. Tuberville accused Mr. Schumer of inaction on this front.

“We could have been confirming one or two a week for the last 200 days,” Mr. Tuberville said. “It would have taken us just four hours of voting each week. But we didn’t do it.”

A recent memo from the Congressional Research Service found that if Mr. Schumer did move to hold a floor vote on each nominee that Mr. Tuberville blocked, it would take 89 workdays in the Senate, assuming the body took up no other business.


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