Senate Democrats are crafting a resolution to get around Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s months-long hold on military promotions and appointments. There are more than 300 senior military personnel stuck in limbo because of the Alabama Republican’s blanket blockade spurred by his opposition to a Pentagon policy that allows service members time off and travel stipends to travel across state lines for abortion services.
Armed Services Committee Chair Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, is spearheading the effort to remove the one-man roadblock. The proposal is a one-off resolution that would change the rules to allow for most of the nominations to be considered in a bloc. The promotion and confirmation votes for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and combatant commanders would be exempted from the resolution, and would still require individual votes. The rule change would be temporary, only lasting through this Congress.
“There’s a bipartisan recognition that we have to get it done, and there are several ways,” Reed told Politico. This one would not qualify as a “nuclear option” that would change the filibuster, so predictable gadflies like Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona shouldn’t object. In fact, Sinema is working on this effort with Reed.
Sinema has been working hard to inject herself into this debate for weeks, arguing that she’s protecting Tuberville’s right to maintain his blockade while helping “find that middle ground to solve the challenge that we’re facing.” Tuberville continues to demonstrate absolutely no interest in finding “middle ground.”
Asked about this effort by Democrats on Newsmax (where else?), Tuberville remained both defiant and ridiculous. “They need to be worried about what’s going on in Ukraine, the Middle East, the wars that their side, the Democrats and Joe Biden, have created,” he said.
Yes, Ukraine, the Middle East—that’s precisely why responsible lawmakers and the whole of the military are hair-on-fire worked up about not having a military that’s fully staffed and at peak readiness, with confirmed leadership.
Even some Senate Republicans have been getting frustrated over Tuberville’s dangerous game, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is on the record as saying “holding these non-policymaking career military [officials] who can’t be involved in politics at all is a mistake, and we continue to work on that and I hope at some point we can get it clear.”
Here’s that chance for McConnell and the rest of the Republicans—or at least nine of them. The resolution will require 60 votes.