Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has agreed to schedule a vote to move the nominations of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Army Chief of Staff forward. This signals a surrender by Schumer in his attempt to crush Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville’s opposition to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s creation of an abortion tourism benefit in defiance of federal law.
We cannot allow Senator Tuberville to decide which of our brave service members get promoted and which languish.
Democrats are taking action.
Today, I filed cloture on the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Army Chief of Staff.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 20, 2023
In July 2022, Lloyd Austin declared that the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs vs. Jackon Women’s Health adversely impacted military readiness because if pregnant members of the Armed Forces couldn’t kill their kids, they couldn’t do their jobs. To do this, Austin created a program that allowed military women seeking abortion to be reimbursed for travel expenses and take up to 21 days off — that is not charged against their annual leave balance — for the purpose of having an abortion. On the other hand, if one of your parents dies and you wish to go to the funeral, you pay your own way and get charged for leave. This is a clear violation of federal laws that forbid using federal funds for abortion. In December 2022, Tuberville announced that he would place a “hold” on all senior military promotions.
All the hold does is prevent a few senior military officers from being confirmed in new positions by “unanimous consent.” This means each nomination will get a cloture vote before proceeding to a floor vote.
Rather than do his job and call the needed votes, Senator Schumer and the Secretary of Defense carried out a public relations campaign to try and bully Tuberville into backing down. It didn’t work (see Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville Reminds the Defense Department That One Determined Man Is a Majority and The US Marine Corps Doesn’t Have a Commandant Today Because ‘One Man With Courage Is a Majority.’
By the time Schumer raised the white flag, he had created a stellar backlog of flag and general officer confirmation votes.
By the end of the year, the Pentagon says that number could swell to 650 generals and admirals who need Senate confirmation before they can assume their jobs. Any single senator can put a hold on nominations under Senate rules.
“The Department has 83 three- and four-star nominations pending for positions already vacated or due to rotate within the next 150 days,” the Pentagon said in response to questions by reporters. “Because of this blanket hold, for the first time in the history of the Department, three of our military services are operating without Senate-confirmed leaders. This is unprecedented, unnecessary and unsafe.”
The Pentagon response is also bullsh** and validates what my colleague Bonchie had to say on the subject: U.S. Military Ranks Must Be Gutted by the Next Republican President.
If the backlog is “unprecedented,” it is only unprecedented because Biden’s Secretary of Defense created a policy in defiance of federal law and in response to a Supreme Court decision he personally opposed. If it is unnecessary, it is only because Secretary Austin chose to become a scofflaw and Senator Schumer was so focused on forcing Senator Tuberville to retreat that he allowed 20 months to elapse with no senior officer confirmation votes. The only thing “unsafe” about the exercise was letting Defense use officer promotions as a bargaining chip in their skirmish with a U.S. Senator.
One of us was bluffing. It wasn’t me.
Democrats are taking the same action they could’ve taken months ago. As long as the Pentagon keeps the unlawful elective abortion policy in place, my holds will remain. https://t.co/f497iygBDd
— Tommy Tuberville (@TTuberville) September 20, 2023
While the illegal and inhuman policy of subsidizing the murder of children in the name of “readiness” will continue, so will Senator Tuberville’s hold. And that is no small thing:
If Schumer wished to confirm all of the nominees that are waiting on the Senate floor one-by-one, as he plans to do with these top-tier officials, a recent memo from the Congressional Research service found it could take as many as 89 8-hour workdays, during a time when Congress must manage a number of other priorities, including funding the government before Oct. 1 to avoid a shutdown.