The Senate has confirmed President Joe Biden’s picks to be the top officers in the Navy and Air Force, breaking the deadlock over senior military promotions. Adm. Lisa Franchetti was confirmed as chief of naval operations, and Gen. David Allvin was confirmed as Air Force chief of staff, both with a vote of 95-1. Republican Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas was the only senator to oppose both confirmations.
This approval comes after a months-long impasse due to Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Alabama) hold on senior military promotions in protest of the Pentagon’s abortion travel policy. In a separate vote, Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney was confirmed as the second-ranking officer in the Marine Corps with a unanimous vote of 86-0. This leadership change became more urgent when Commandant Gen. Eric Smith was hospitalized with a medical emergency, leaving a three-star general in charge of the Marine Corps.
The blanket hold on senior military promotions, imposed by Tuberville, had hampered the Joint Chiefs and delayed critical nominations for several months. Even some fellow Republicans expressed frustration with Tuberville’s tactics and the potential harm to the military. As a result, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and other Republican senators forced Tuberville to block votes on 61 nominees.
Despite these confirmations, several hundred other nominees remain in limbo. Senate Armed Services Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.) is circulating a resolution to allow batches of those promotions to be confirmed in a single vote, which Democrats hope will garner bipartisan support.
Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) emphasized that the trio of confirmations is only a partial solution and urged both parties to consider a rules carve-out to address the broader issue.
The confirmation of Adm. Franchetti as chief of naval operations marks an important milestone as she becomes the first female member of the Joint Chiefs, which is the highest-ranking military advisory body to the President of the United States. Both Franchetti and Gen. Allvin have been serving in acting roles for their respective positions pending confirmation.
The Senate’s confirmation of top military officers is a critical step in ensuring effective leadership within the U.S. Armed Forces. The months-long hold on senior military promotions, primarily due to Sen. Tuberville’s protest against the Pentagon’s abortion travel policy, had created a disruptive situation and hindered military operations.
With Adm. Franchetti becoming the first female member of the Joint Chiefs, this move is significant not only for her but also for advancing diversity and representation within the U.S. military leadership. It underscores the importance of addressing political disputes to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the military’s leadership structure. The ongoing frustration among lawmakers with these delays may lead to further efforts to streamline the confirmation process for senior military officers in the future.