Senate Briefly Pierces Tuberville's Blockade

Army chief of staff and Marine commandant are confirmed, but other nominees wait
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2023 3:00 PM CDT
Senate Briefly Pierces Tuberville's Blockade
Marine Gen. Eric Smith testifies during the Senate Armed Services hearing on his nomination to lead the Marine Corps in June 13.   (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)

The Senate confirmed two new service chiefs on Thursday, despite the blockade put in place by Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville, but there were indications Democrats didn't feel good about it. Gen. Randy George can now take over as Army chief of staff, and Gen. Eric Smith can officially become Marine commandant. The vote on Smith was 96-0, Politico reports, while George was approved 96-1, with the no vote coming from Republican Sen. Mike Lee. Gen. Charles Brown Jr. was confirmed Wednesday afternoon once Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reversed course after refusing for months to vote individually on nominees, the only way to confirm military nominees while Tuberville blocks group votes in an effort to change a Pentagon policy on abortion.

Right up until the vote on Brown, Democrats had cautioned about setting a precedent by singling out a few nominees for confirmation. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called it "fundamentally wrong" to let Tuberville decide which nominations receive a floor vote, per Punchbowl News. Sen. Tammy Duckworth pointed out that confirming the three nominees opens up the jobs they're leaving, which also are senior positions. "We're taking three steps forward and three steps backward," the Democrat said. The 300 or so other jobs Tuberville is blocking also are important to national security, Duckworth said.

Democrats said Schumer's decision isn't the problem—it's Tuberville's. "Nothing that Chuck Schumer does on the floor contributes to Tommy Tuberville's decision to continue to sacrifice the security of the country," said Sen. Chris Murphy. They want Republicans to deal with their rogue member, and they said Tuberville's push for a vote on Smith shows he's feeling GOP pressure. A USA Today survey found little indication other Republicans were leaning on Tuberville, though. (Tuberville's block stems from his opposition to the military's abortion policy.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.