Senator's Stance Creates a Military First

Three military branches are now without leaders as Sen. Tommy Tuberville blocks nominations
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2023 2:00 AM CDT
Senator's Stance Creates a Military First
Sen. Tommy Tuberville. R-Ala., speaks at a fundraiser event for the Alabama GOP before introducing former President Donald Trump, Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, in Montgomery, Ala.   (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville now has notched an unprecedented political hat trick of sorts: Because of the Republican senator's hold on military nominations, the Navy, Army, and Marines are without official leaders for the first time, reports the Military Times. The trifecta came into place Monday when Navy chief Michael Gilday stepped down as required by law, per CBS News. Adm. Lisa Franchetti will serve as acting leader until the political standoff is resolved.

Tuberville has taken advantage of Senate rules to effectively put a hold on all military nominations because he objects to a new Pentagon policy that grants time off and travel stipends for service members to travel across state lines to have abortions. "This particular stand is necessary because the Biden administration has shown that, unless held accountable, they will continue to violate the law and use our tax dollars to promote an extreme left-wing agenda," Tuberville said in a statement on Monday. His move could affect 650 nominations by year's end.

"This is unprecedented, it is unnecessary, and it is unsafe," said defense chief Lloyd Austin on Monday. "And this sweeping hold is undermining America's military readiness." The Senate could work around Tuberville's hold, but that would be an extremely time-consuming process not seen as practical. In a Washington Post op-ed, retired Adm. Michelle J. Howard notes that Tuberville once coached college football. "Coach Tuberville would never have permitted the political views of one coach or player to interfere with the performance of the Auburn Tigers," writes Howard. And yet he is doing that to military, she adds. "We need a full team on the field." (Tuberville was recently dubbed "Florida's third senator.")

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