In a reversal of a months-long stance, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that he will bring a resolution to the Senate floor that, if passed, would overcome the military promotions block from Sen. Tommy Tuberville.
“Patience is wearing thin with Senator Tuberville on both sides of the aisle,” Schumer said in floor remarks Wednesday. “What happened with the Marine Commandant just showed many people how dangerous what Tuberville is doing is. And so I will call for a resolution on the floor to allow us to vote on all these people at once. And I’m very hopeful and optimistic about it.”
The Alabama Republican has held up more than 300 promotions over his objections to the military’s reproductive rights policy.
The resolution, introduced by Senate Armed Services Chair Jack Reed, would allow the promotions to be processed en bloc. Schumer said he will bring it to the floor as soon as it clears the Senate Rules Committee, which will determine the parameters needed for the resolution to pass.
Some of Tuberville’s own GOP colleagues are trying to find ways around the blockade. In a first since Tuberville began his holds on top military nominees in February, Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan went to the Senate floor to try and quickly confirm a large tranche of these nominees on Wednesday evening.
Sullivan, a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, along with other Republican senators attempted to have nominees confirmed, but Tuberville continued to object. A Republican aide noted to CNN earlier that Sullivan is the only senator currently serving in the military, and that his personal relationships with several nominees have made him concerned that the Pentagon may lose their best and brightest. They noted that no one wants a “JV squad in these dangerous times.”
During Tuesday’s Republican lunch, both Sullivan and GOP Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa raised this issue, and noted their growing concern over the impact the holds are having as time goes on, per the same Republican aide. While Tuberville had left the lunch by this point, there was consensus in the room that they have to do something to fill these vacancies at the Pentagon.
The same source added that several senators are upset with Tuberville’s staff claiming in several press releases that Republicans are “united” against a possible rules change to break the standoff over military holds, when several of them are still undecided.
The move comes in addition to the three military promotions they are acting on Wednesday that had previously been held by Tuberville.
Tuberville released a statement Wednesday arguing that he forced Schumer’s hand on the top three military nominees that were advanced on Tuesday evening.
“For months, Schumer publicly said that he would not allow votes on military nominations, but has now caved for the second time,” said Tuberville’s office in a news release.
Tuberville has been holding up military promotions since February because of a Department of Defense policy that reimburses travel costs for military members requiring reproductive care outside of the state in which they are stationed. The department enacted the policy after the reversal of Roe v. Wade last year overturned the constitutional right to an abortion and left the issue to individual states.
Schumer’s move does nothing to change the underlying policy Tuberville has taken issue with.
Democrats had previously resisted moving ahead on the nominations to apply political pressure on the Alabama Republican but in the face of the Israel-Hamas war, the war in Ukraine and the hospitalization of a top military commander, they reversed course.
“The resolution will be referred to the Rules Committee, and when the time comes, I will bring it to the floor of the Senate for consideration,” Schumer said during his floor remarks. “We must, we absolutely must, ensure that our military is fully staffed and fully equipped to defend the American people, and it begins by confirming these vital nominations that are currently on hold.”
On Tuesday, Schumer took steps to advance the nominations of Adm. Lisa Franchetti to be chief of Naval Operations, Gen. David Allvin to be Air Force chief of staff and Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney to be assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.
The confirmations of Franchetti and Allvin would fill the rest of the vacancies on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Schumer noted that Mahoney’s confirmation has become more urgent since the Marine Corps commandant, Gen. Eric Smith, was hospitalized over the weekend.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.
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