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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Politics

Senate to move toward rules change to end Tuberville military nominations hold

Nov 08, 2023

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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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The Senate Rules Committee will take a big step toward ending Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s hold on what is now, according to the Pentagon, 450 military nominees. Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., announced that on Nov. 14, the committee will prepare a proposal on that would allow the chamber to consider the nominations en bloc.

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The proposal is officially a suspension of Senate rules until the end of the year. Once it’s approved in the committee, it can move directly to the Senate floor for consideration.

Klobuchar hopes it will allow for a resolution to this issue by Thanksgiving.

“Sen. Tuberville just can’t stop the chain of command of the U.S. military while we’re engaged in conflicts all over the world,” Sen. Klobuchar told reporters. 

Republicans said they want to avoid a rules change, but many haven’t ruled it out.

“We talked about the possible resolution, you know, going through markup,” Tuberville, R-Ala., said. “We don’t want to do that. We don’t want to cut the minority short of any kind of power, no matter who’s in the minority, who’s in the majority.”

“I’m hoping it doesn’t get to that,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told reporters Nov. 2, after Tuberville blocked fellow Republicans from approving 61 nominees. “I think changing the rules creates precedents that create other issues down the road.”

Senate Republicans met for two hours on Tuesday, Nov. 7, to discuss alternatives with Tuberville, who said he’s willing to negotiate.

“It was really constructive,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said, echoing the sentiment Republicans gave as they exited.

GOP members are actively trying to convince Tuberville to relent, but for now, he said he will keep his hold on the nominees in protest of the Pentagon policy that provides travel expense reimbursement and paid time off for service members who get an abortion. 

“I mean, there’s really not a side to this because we’re all for the military and Republicans are all for the unborn,” Tuberville said. “And so that’s what I’m trying to do is balance that — trying to get people promoted at the same time.”

Tuberville told reporters he’s considering the following options to end this impasse:

  • Voting on nominations individually. 
  • Allowing for swift passage via unanimous consent for nominees that are most crucial to national security or have the biggest impact down the chain of command.
  • Filing a lawsuit to fight the policy in court.
  • Getting an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act that would end the policy.

“Now we’re running nine months,” Tuberville said. “We’re in virgin territory here. We ain’t never done this before.”

While Klobuchar said she hopes a rules change can help overcome the military holds by Thanksgiving, Tuberville did not have a timeline for any of his options. 

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The Senate rules committee will take a big step toward ending Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s hold on what is now, according to the Pentagon, 450 military nominees. Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., announced the committee will prepare a proposal on November 14 that would allow the chamber to consider the nominations en bloc. 

It’s officially a suspension of Senate rules until the end of the year. Once it’s approved in the committee, it can move straight to the Senate floor for consideration. Klobuchar hopes it will allow for a resolution to this issue by Thanksgiving. 

“Senator Tuberville just can’t stop the chain of command of the US military while we’re engaged in conflicts all over the world,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar D-MN, told reporters. 

Republicans say they want to avoid a rules change, although many haven’t ruled it out. 

“We talked about the possible resolution, you know, going through markup, we don’t want to do that. You know, we don’t want to cut them a minority short of any kind of power, no matter who’s in, who’s a minority who’s a majority,” Sen. Tuberville, R-Ala., said after the meeting. 

“I’m hoping it doesn’t get to that. I think changing the rules creates precedents that get great, you know, other issues down the road,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told reporters Nov. 2 after Tuberville blocked fellow Republicans from approving 61 nominees. 

Senate Republicans met for two hours on Tuesday to discuss alternatives with Tuberville, who says he’s willing to negotiate. . 

“It was really constructive,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said, echoing the sentiment Republicans gave as they exited. 

They’re actively trying to convince Tuberville to relent. But for now, he says he will keep his hold on the nominees to protest a Pentagon policy that provides travel expense reimbursement and paid time off for service members who get an abortion. 

“I mean, there’s really not a side of this, because we’re all for the military. And the Republicans are all for the unborn. And so that’s what I’m trying to do is balance trying to get people promoted at the same time,” Tuberville said. 

Tuberville told reporters he’s considering the following options to end this impasse: 

  • Voting on nominations individually 
  • Allowing for swift passage via unanimous consent for nominees that are most crucial to national security or have the biggest impact down the chain of command 
  • Filing a lawsuit to fight the policy in court 
  • Getting an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act that would end the policy 

“Now we’re running nine months, this has never been. I mean, this is we’re in virgin territory. We’ve never done this before,” Tuberville said. 

While Klobuchar said she hopes a rules change can help overcome the military holds by Thanksgiving; Tuberville did not have a timeline for any of his proposals.