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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Politics

Senate Republicans won’t rule out rules change over Tuberville military hold 

Nov 06, 2023

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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Senate Republicans are publicly pressuring Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., to drop his blanket hold on military nominees that has been in place since February 2023. Tuberville is protesting a Pentagon policy that provides travel expense reimbursement and paid time off for military service members who get an abortion. 

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Republicans are proposing alternatives to Tuberville, like filing a lawsuit or limiting his hold to the Pentagon’s policy chief. 

Right-wing senators are working to get the 378 pending nominations approved. If the lawmakers’ attempts fail, many won’t rule out a temporary change to the Senate’s rules that would prevent Tuberville from blocking nominee approvals in large groups. 

“There’s talk about suspending rules, there’s talk about changing rules — we’d like to avoid this,” Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., said. “There’s a growing block of Republican senators, pro-life senators, who think this is not in furtherance of our national interest or national security and we’re prepared to act if we have to.”

There’s talk about suspending rules, there’s talk about changing rules — we’d like to avoid this. There’s a growing block of Republican senators, pro-life senators, who think this is not in furtherance of our national interest or national security and we’re prepared to act if we have to.

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind.

“I’m hoping it doesn’t get to that. I think changing the rules creates precedents that create other issues down the road,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said.

Republicans — like Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa — are expressing dismay over the hold’s impacts on the families of service members as they are unable to enroll in schools or find a job while they wait to move to their new city.

Republicans are also warning Tuberville that his tactic could one day be used against their own party.

“If we take back the White House, the Mexico City Policy will be reintroduced which limits federal dollars to overseas organizations who perform abortions,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said. “Some of the more liberal people won’t like that. If they tried to hold the military nominees say under President Trump to get him to change policy, he would never give in. So, I think the best way to challenge this is in court.”

Graham raised concerns that some of the nominees are coming up against the “up or out” deadline, which requires service members to leave the military if they are not promoted within a certain period of time.

“Why would you want to throw your best team off the field?” Graham asked.

Tuberville said he respectfully disagrees with his colleagues who contend his hold is negatively impacting military readiness.

“The fact is no jobs, no jobs are going unfilled. Every job is being done,” Tuberville said.

However, every job is being done because nominees have to fulfill the duties of both their current job and the job they’re nominated for in an acting capacity, which is taking a toll.

Marine Commandant Gen. Eric Smith is recovering from a heart attack after weeks of working from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. since he is also performing the duties of assistant commandant. Tuberville also has a hold on that nomination.

“If you want to do this, go after the people who are making the policy, not the people who have nothing to do with it and are simply there trying to do their jobs and keep our country safe,” Thune said.

If the Senate was to have a full vote on each individual nomination as Tuberville has proposed, getting them all approved would take months.

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Senate Republicans are publicly pressuring Senator Tommy Tuberville to drop his blanket hold on military nominees that he’s had in place since February. Tuberville is protesting a pentagon policy that provides travel expense reimbursement and paid time off for military service members who get an abortion. 

Republicans are proposing alternatives to Tuberville, like filing a lawsuit or limiting his hold to the Pentagon’s policy chief. 

They are going to exhaust every option to get the 375 pending nominations approved. But if all else fails, many won’t rule out a temporary change to the Senate’s rules that would prevent Tuberville from blocking approval of the nominees in large groups. 

“There’s talk about suspending rules, there’s talk about changing rules – we’d like to avoid this,” Sen. Todd Young R-Ind., said. “There’s a growing block of republican senators, pro-life senators, who think this is not in furtherance of our national interest or national security and we’re prepared to act if we have to.” 

“I’m hoping it doesn’t get to that. I think changing the rules creates precedents that create other issues down the road,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said. 

Republicans, like Senator Joni Ernst, are expressing dismay over the hold’s impacts on the family of service members who are unable to enroll in schools or find a job while they wait to move to their new city. 

They are also warning Tuberville that his tactic could one day be used against Republicans. 

“If we take back the White House the Mexico City Policy will be reintroduced which limits federal dollars to overseas organizations who perform abortions. Some of the more liberal people won’t like that. If they tried to hold the military nominees say under President Trump to get him to change policy, he would never give in,” Sen. Lindsey Graham R-S.C., said.  “So I think the best way to challenge this is in court.”

Graham raised concerns that some of the nominees are coming up against what’s known as the up or out deadline, which requires service members to leave the military if they’re not promoted within a certain period of time.

“Why would you want to throw your best team off the field,” Graham asked rhetorically. 

Tuberville said he respectfully disagrees with his colleagues who contend his hold is negatively impacting military readiness. 

“The fact is- no jobs, no jobs are going unfilled. Every job is being done,” Sen. Tuberville said. 

Every job is being done because nominees have to fulfill the duties of both their current job and the job they’re nominated for in an acting capacity. That’s taking it’s toll.

Marine Corps. Commandant General Eric Smith is currently recovering from a heart attack he suffered after weeks of working from five o’clock in the morning to 11 o’clock at night because he is also performing the duties of assistant commandant. Tuberville has a hold on that nomination. 

“If you want to do this, go after the people who are making the policy, not the people who have nothing to do with it and are simply there trying to do their jobs and keep our country safe,” Sen. Thune said. 

If the Senate were to have a full vote on each nomination individually as Senator Tuberville has proposed, getting them all approved would take months.