Tuberville Looks To End Historic Military Promotion Blockade

The Alabama senator will maintain his hold on officers he deems ‘woke.’

AP/Jacquelyn Martin
Senator Tuberville on September 14, 2023, at Washington. AP/Jacquelyn Martin

Senator Tuberville will soon end his nine-month-long blockade of promotions for more than 350 general and flag officers in the American military — a protest that has enraged his Republican colleagues. Yet Mr. Tuberville says he will not end his hold on the promotions of those candidates he deems too “woke” to serve. 

“We will promote people in the very near future,” the senator told NBC News. “I don’t know how many at one time. I’d like to get it done here in the next week or so.” 

Mr. Tuberville in February placed the first-of-its-kind blanket hold on all Senate-confirmed Department Defense promotions. His action followed Secretary Austin’s announcement that the Pentagon would reimburse servicewomen for travel and offer paid time off for those who needed to go out of state from where they were based in order to receive abortions. 

The Biden administration has said it will not abandon the policy. An Army veteran, Senator Ernst, told the Sun previously that Mr. Tuberville should drop the hold so that an “outside group … with standing” can challenge the policy while the officers receive Senate confirmation. 

Mr. Tuberville has grown weary of his one-man fight. “Trying to get some kind of resolution before we get home for Christmas, we’ve got a couple of weeks,” Mr. Tuberville told reporters on Wednesday. “We’ve got to do this the right way. It’s been 10 months. I want to get this over with too, if we do it the right way.”

Mr. Tuberville won the scorn of many of his Republican colleagues in recent months after the statutory term for the joint chiefs of staff lapsed. The senator’s hold left vacancies on the military panel for the first time since its inception. The chairman of the joint chiefs, General C.Q. Brown, was confirmed by the Senate just days before his predecessor, General Mark Milley, was due to retire. 

On November 2, Admiral Lisa Franchetti was confirmed as chief of naval operations, and General David Allvin was confirmed as chief of staff of the Air Force after those positions were left vacant for more than a month. 

Just before those confirmations, multiple Republican senators who combined have nearly a century of military experience under their belts went to the floor to protest Mr. Tuberville’s blockade. Senators Graham, Young, Sullivan, and Ernst sat at their Senate desks seeking unanimous consent to confirm military officers — and each and every time, Mr. Tuberville objected. Ms. Ernst later told the Sun that Mr. Tuberville was “holding them hostage.”

The impetus for Mr. Tuberville’s change of tone is the prospect of Senator Schumer altering the upper chamber’s rules, which Republicans have said is a travesty that may be necessary should the Alabama senator not release his hold. Ms. Ernst told the Sun that the temporary rule change, authored by Senators Sinema and Reed, is akin to “breaking the United States Senate.”

Alabama’s senior senator does want to crack down not only on the abortion policy instituted by Mr. Austin but also on the “woke” diversity programs that General Brown has pushed, which have led to what Mr. Tuberville calls the “weakest” military of his lifetime. 

He will continue his hold on the “woke” general and flag officer candidates, he told reporters, though his exact definition of “woke” is unclear.

The New York Sun

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