Former Sen. Doug Jones said he thinks there is a ̵6;direct connection between’ Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville ending his block of military confirmations and the Republican presidential debate at the University of Alabama on Wednesday.
Jones, a Democrat who only served a partial term before he was beat by Republican Tuberville, said his successor was being tactical in deciding to finally end his nine-month blockade at this time.
He said that distaste within the Republican Party for Tuberville’s actions stopping military appointments and promotions was only growing with the spotlight turning to the southern state for the debate at the University of Alabama on Wednesday evening.
‘We always like to see events like this down here,’ Jones said at a press conference with President Joe Biden‘s Principal Deputy Campaign Manager Quentin Fulks and Alabama Rep. Barbara Drummond.
Jones added: ‘But today is especially important, and fortuitously, I think that there is also a direct connection between the spotlight on Alabama and today’s Republican event and Senator Tubreville’s release of the military promotions that he did yesterday.’
Sen. Tuberville finally lifted his blockade on hundreds of military promotions Tuesday, after members of his own party joined Democrats in pressuring him to relent.
Former Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones said Wednesday that there is a ‘direct connection’ in the timing of Sen. Tommy Tuberville ending his military appointment blockade and the Republican presidential primary debate
Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama said he was maintaining a hold on 11 4-star generals, but would lift his blanket hold on some 400 military promotions after a nearly 10-month blockade
The Alabama Republican and former football coach used his leverage as a member of the Armed Service Committee to protest the Pentagon’s payment of abortion-related travel costs.
He did so by stalling all senior military promotions for nearly 10 consecutive months.
Tuberville said on Tuesday he would lift his hold on most of them. Soon afterward, the Senate in a single move advanced about 425 military promotions.
‘There was a rising tide – no pun intended for the University of Alabama – there was a rising tide among his Republican colleagues who challenged him on the Senate floor,’ Jones said Wednesday. ‘That had to have grown lately because of the event here tonight.’
The former Democratic senator thanked Republicans in Alabama for hosting the debate to put more spotlight on the deep red state.
‘This is really not a debate tonight. You can’t debate when the frontrunner is not here. It’s really kind of a town hall,’ Jones added of the Wednesday event.
President Joe Biden cheered the news of the blockade finally lifting, while taking another shot at Tuberville.
‘Our service members are the backbone of our country and deserve to receive the pay and promotions they have earned. In the end, this was all pointless,’ Biden wrote in a statement.
‘Senator Tuberville, and the Republicans who stood with him, needlessly hurt hundreds of servicemembers and military families and threatened our national security – all to push a partisan agenda. I hope no one forgets what he did,’ he said, adding, ‘Those who serve this nation deserve better.’
Jones spoke alongside President Joe Biden’s Principal Deputy Campaign Manager Quentin Fulks and Alabama Rep. Barbara Drummond just hours before the fourth Republican presidential primary debate at the University of Alabama on Wednesday
Tuberville’s actions have affected some 400 officers and their families, as well as lower-level officers in the military. Pentagon leaders have said the holds threatened national security.
‘I’ve still got a hold on, I think, 11 four-star generals. Everybody else is completely released by me,’ he told reporters on Tuesday.
‘It was pretty much a draw. They didn’t get what they wanted. We didn’t get what we wanted,’ he said.
His retreat comes without securing a policy concession, while facing a threat that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer would bring up a proposal that would do an end run around his blockade.
‘We got all we could get,’ he said.
His tactic drew angry pushback from the White House, which stressed the strain on the command structure and on military families amid the war in Ukraine and threats in the Pacific – compounded by Israel’s war on Hamas. President Biden called his hold on military promotions ‘ridiculous.’
Tuberville began blocking confirmations to senior Pentagon posts in March to protest a Pentagon policy enacted last year that provides paid leave and reimburses costs for service members who travel to get an abortion.
That policy came after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving some servicemembers stationed in bases where they did not have access to the procedure.
Democrats have said Tuberville should show his objection on a policy matter by targeting Biden nominees involved with policy rather than nonpolitical military officials.
He had signaled last week he might finally give up, after Senate Republicans took to the floor to highlight military nominees who weren’t able to assume their new posts, or whose families weren’t able to enroll in new schools while the political knot remained tangled.
‘No matter whether you believe it or not, Senator Tuberville, this is doing great damage to our military,’ said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Donald Trump ally like Tuberville who represents a state with a strong military presence.
‘Why would you punish them for something they’ve got nothing to do with,’ Graham asked.
‘Folks, if this keeps going, people are going to leave,’ he said.
‘I know these people, you know, need to be promoted,’ Tuberville said last week.