- Tuberville blocked hundreds of promotions for months
- He was protesting DOD policy on servicewomen traveling for abortiosn
- Republicans and Democrats fumed and pressured him to lift his hold
Senator Tommy Tuberville finally lifted his blockade on hundreds of military promotions, after members of his own party joined Democrats in pressuring him to relent.
The Alabama Republican and former football coach used his leverage to protest the Pentagon‘s payment of abortion-related travel costs, stalling all senior military promotions for 10 consecutive months.
He said on Tuesday he would lift his hold on most of them.
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.
Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama said he was maintaining a hold on 11 4-star generals, but would lift his blanket hold on military promotions, after a months-long blockade
‘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, a social conservative from Alabama, 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.