After four months of waiting, the Senate finally confirmed General Charles Q. Brown Jr. of the Air Force as the top military officer in the country.
The vote happened Wednesday, after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer used a procedural move to confirm Brown as the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The final vote passed by a tally of 83-11.
Brown will replace General Mark Milley of the Army, whose term as chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ends in October.
For the last four months, no Pentagon confirmations have happened because Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama has basically put a blockade on all nominees. He’s done so as a protest over an abortion policy that the Department of Defense passed recently that reimburses members of the military for travel they take to get abortion care.
In those four months, more than 300 different military nominations have been put on hold.
Tuberville’s block of nominations started after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the new policy, which offered reimbursement for travel for any military troop and their families to get an abortion if they were based in a state where the procedure is no longer legal.
The Alabama senator hasn’t wavered in his blockade, even after the White House, many Democrats in Congress and even some members of his own party have said that his actions have threatened military readiness.
Tuberville countered that criticism not by backing down, but by saying that the way around it is for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to call each of the nominations separate for an individual vote, which is what he ended up doing with Brown on Wednesday.
Just ahead of the vote on Wednesday, Tuberville actually claimed that he had won, in a way, in his battle with Schumer and Democrats. He said to reporters:
“It’s about time. I’ve been calling for that for months.”
When Schumer called the vote, he said that Tuberville was just trying to be the “gatekeeper” of all military confirmations. Schumer said:
“The harm he is doing to the military and their families remains and unfortunately continues for hundreds of others.”
In being confirmed for the position, Brown will be the first chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who comes from the Air Force since back in 2005. That year, General Richard B. Myers, who was nominated by former President Bill Clinton, saw his term come to an end.
Brown has been serving as the Air Force’s chief of staff since 2020. He assumed that position when the Senate, which was then controlled by the GOP, nominated him in what was an historic moment. He became the first Black military officer to lead a U.S. military branch.
Brown is a very experienced pilot who has logged in excess of 3,000 flying hours, more than 130 of which have come during combat. President Joe Biden recently called Brown “a warrior” and an “unflappable and highly effective leader.”