During Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s blocking of senior Pentagon nominees, the Senate finally confirmed two four-star generals to head the Army and Marine Corps.
After General Randy George was confirmed as Army chief of staff, General Eric Smith was confirmed as the new Marine commandant with a 96-0 vote. General of the Air Force C.Q. Brown had been given the green light to lead the Joint Chiefs of Staff the day before. But that’s not to say that Democrats are declaring victory just yet.
Three hundred high-ranking military officers, including generals and admirals, remain stuck. The Alabama Republican has put a hold on promotions to protest the Pentagon’s abortion travel policy, and senators are still trying to figure out how to get around his hold. Lawmakers have promised to keep the heat on to get Tuberville to reconsider his mind.
Other nominees involved in the dispute include Air Force Chief of Staff General David Allvin, Navy Chief of Operations Admiral Lisa Franchetti, Missile Defense Agency Director Major General Heath Collins, and Pentagon Chief of Policy Nominee Derek Chollet. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has already rejected a proposal to sidestep Tuberville’s hold by holding separate votes on military nominations. On Wednesday, though, he reversed course and said he would allow a vote on the top three candidates.
But when asked about the Democrats’ plan to confirm the rest, Schumer remained mum.
Rhode Island Democrat and Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee Jack Reed has called on Republicans to convince Tuberville to rethink his position. He thinks the United States is at risk since there are still 300 military officers in limbo.
Tuberville has refused to fast-track the certification of almost 300 senior promotions. Holding votes on individual picks would take hundreds of hours and utterly dominate the Senate’s calendar, as both Democrats and the administration have pointed out. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), a close ally of President Joe Biden, has spoken out against the idea of casting additional votes in pairs or small groups. He said that Republican pressure on Tuberville was responsible for the progress made on Wednesday and Thursday and that it should continue until a more permanent solution is found.