Senator Tommy Tuberville on Tuesday finally gave up his blockade on military promotions. All he managed to accomplish in the nearly yearlong effort was to annoy all of his colleagues.
Tuberville has blocked 450 military promotions since March as a part of a one-man protest against the Defense Department’s policy of reimbursing travel costs for service members who have to travel out of state for an abortion. He announced Tuesday that he will allow most of those promotions to go forward now—but will still demand that the people nominated for four-star promotions, of which there are about 10, get roll-call votes on the Senate floor.
Typically, the Senate majority leader brings a list of proposed military promotions to the floor. The chamber votes on all the candidates at once, and unanimous consent is needed to approve the promotions. Democrats have tried to bring individual candidates to the floor for a vote, but there are too many stalled promotions for this to be efficient.
In early November, the Senate brought 61 individual nominees to the floor for a vote, but Tuberville objected to all of them, tanking each officer’s promotion. His actions finally set off his fellow Republicans, who slammed Tuberville for insisting that his blockade is not harming military readiness.
“No offense, but that’s just ridiculous,” Senator Dan Sullivan said. “He knows it. We all know it.”
“How dumb can we be, man?”
The Pentagon has warned repeatedly of the military consequences of the lawmaker’s blockade, with the secretary of the Navy accusing Tuberville of “aiding and abetting” Communist regimes by holding up promotions.
Tuberville’s crusade has led to multiple high-level positions remaining unfilled, leaving different military branches scrambling whenever something goes wrong. In early November, General Eric Smith, the commandant of the Marine Corps, was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack, further thinning the ranks. His workload had doubled thanks to Tuberville.
Now, finally, it looks like Tuberville’s little stunt is coming to an end.