In a significant development on Capitol Hill, the Senate has greenlit the confirmation of more than 400 military nominees. The breakthrough came after Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama announced that he would be lifting the majority of his holds, marking the end of a lengthy campaign that lasted several months.
Earlier in the day, Senator Tuberville informed reporters that he had released his hold on all military promotions for ranks of three stars and below, totaling over 425 promotions. He stated, “I’m releasing everybody. I still got a hold on, I think, 11 four-star generals. Everybody else is completely released from me. But other than that, it’s over.”
Following this announcement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor, confirming all 425 nominees unanimously. He expressed relief for members of the military and their families, stating, “They can breathe a sigh of relief.” However, Schumer didn’t shy away from criticizing Senator Tuberville’s 10-month hold, suggesting it risked national security and needlessly put military families through a “pointless and gravely damaging ordeal.” Schumer also issued a cautionary note to other senators against employing a similar tactic in the future, saying, “Let this incident be a warning. No one — no one — should attempt this in the Senate again. The senior senator from Alabama has nothing to show for his 10 months of delay.”
President Joe Biden also weighed in on the matter, stating, “Confirmations are long overdue and should never have been held up in the first place.” He characterized the delay as “pointless” and accused Tuberville and Republicans who supported him of needlessly harming hundreds of service members and military families, as well as jeopardizing national security.
Senator Tuberville had been withholding military nominations as a form of protest against the Defense Department’s policy allowing service members to be reimbursed for travel costs related to obtaining abortions, a policy that remains in place.
Schumer stated that the Senate would work to confirm the remaining nominees whom Tuberville is still blocking “soon.” The process might involve deciding whether to process these confirmations individually or as a group in the coming weeks.
The senator from Alabama had hinted last week that he might release some of his holds, citing mounting pressure from members of both parties. He had not specified the number of promotions he would allow but emphasized his desire to facilitate as many confirmations as possible in the coming week.
Some of the military nominees previously blocked by Tuberville included top officers destined to command U.S. forces in the Middle East. The delay drew criticism from both parties, with Republican senators attempting multiple times to confirm these nominees on the Senate floor, only to be blocked by Tuberville each time.
Despite internal party criticism, it wasn’t until this week that Tuberville decided to release the majority of his holds, ending a prolonged standoff that had raised concerns about the impact on military readiness and the potential loss of talent within the armed forces.