Tuberville refuses to budge on military promotions despite mounting pressure from GOP | ET REALITY

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Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) is refusing to back down on his decision to delay more than 300 non-political military promotions, despite mounting pressure from his colleagues and Senate Republican leaders.

Other Republican senators have criticized Tuberville’s strategy as a “mistake” and urged him to limit his positions to Biden nominees who make political decisions and allow stagnant non-political military personnel to continue advancing their careers.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Tuesday expressed doubts about Tuberville’s aggressive tactics.

“I think retaining these career military (officials) who don’t make policy and who can’t get involved in politics at all is a mistake and we continue to work on that and I hope at some point we can make that clear,” he said. reporters.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), vice chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and ranking member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, urged Tuberville on Tuesday to limit her tenures to policymaking positions.

“I am very concerned about this and I hope that Senator Tuberville will reconsider and limit his focus to only those individuals who have political responsibilities,” Collins said.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved 273 promotions that are now stalled due to Tuberville’s control, according to a Senate aide.

The Defense Department has submitted a total of 319 nominations, but the Armed Forces panel has yet to act on about 40 of them.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) warned over the weekend that Tuberville’s decisions are “crippling the Department of Defense.”

“The idea that a man in the Senate could delay this for months, I understand maybe promotions, but not nominations,” McCaul said.

“I think it’s a national security issue and a national security issue. And I really wish you would reconsider this,” she warned.

But Tuberville is standing firm, saying he will only release the holds if the Biden administration reverses its policy of paying service members to travel across state lines to obtain abortions.

The Alabama senator shook his head “no” when asked Tuesday if he is willing to negotiate a compromise with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin or the White House.

“No, we’re going down for seven months,” he said when asked if he was open to a compromise on abortion policy. “They don’t like this either. There is no give and take here on either side.”

Tuberville also ruled out simply voting on the floor for a bill sponsored by Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and John Kennedy (R-La.) to restrict the Secretary of Defense’s ability to provide paid leave and transportation to service members. looking for an abortion.

Instead, he wants the Pentagon to reverse its policy and then have Congress vote on the issue.

If Democrats can’t muster the votes to implement the new Pentagon policy through legislation (which they likely couldn’t do), then service members would be unable to receive leave or reimbursement for transportation costs incurred when traveling through state borders. to an abortion provider.

“Take it back,” he said of the Defense Department’s abortion policy. “Return it to what it was.”

“And then send what you want to vote for and let’s vote for or against, whatever. If they move it back and we get a vote, that will not constitute any suspension,” she said. “And then let the vote happen as it may.”

He argued that Austin did not have the legal authority to change Pentagon policy with “a memorandum,” referring to the Oct. 20, 2022, memorandum signed by the Secretary of Defense to establish travel and transportation subsidies and facilitate access to reproductive services. medical care not available within the local area of ​​a service member’s duty station.

Biden administration officials point to the The Department of Justice issued an opinion on October 3, 2022, saying that US law only restricts the use of federal funds to “perform abortions,” but does not prohibit the use of funds to pay expenses such as per diem or travel expenses.

Anxiety over the confrontation is growing as the Army’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley prepares to resign once his term expires at the end of the month.

Biden has nominated Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown to replace Milley, but he has been trapped in control of Tuberville.

The Army, Navy and Marine Corps are already operating with acting chiefs.

Brigadier General Patrick Ryder told reporters Tuesday that certain national security “authorities” “can only be exercised by a leader confirmed by the Senate.”

Senate Republicans, including Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who has a good relationship with Austin, and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), are urging Tuberville to negotiate a compromise that allows the stalled nominees to move forward. .

“I’ve been quietly working with as many people as possible, all the key players, on what that potential compromise might be,” Sullivan said Tuesday.

Romney has floated the idea of ​​banning the use of federal money to pay for leave and transportation costs for service members who travel across state lines to obtain abortions after 16 weeks of pregnancy.

“I think there needs to be discussions between the two parties, Tuberville and Austin. They should sit down, have a private meeting and look for common ground,” Romney said.

“One suggestion I have made is for the Secretary of Defense to say, ‘We will stop paying for any travel associated with abortion during the 16 weeks of pregnancy. In exchange, you, Tommy (Tuberville), will agree to release these (nominees) for a vote,” he said. “I think that kind of commitment is the way to solve this.”

Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) have also been involved in trying to broker a deal between Tuberville and the administration.

“We’re still talking and trying to find a solution,” Cornyn said. “Senator. Sinema is working hard on it.”

But Schumer on Tuesday ruled out the prospect of negotiating a deal with Tuberville to reduce or reverse part of the Pentagon’s abortion policy to advance stalled military promotions.

“Look, the bottom line is that this is a Republican problem. Don’t push it on us. It was created solely by Tuberville and it is up to Republicans to pressure him to back down, plain and simple. We are already seeing that pressure increase,” Schumer said. “The pressure is increasing. Tuberville should back off.”

He noted that former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who is running for the Republican Party presidential nomination, criticized Tuberville for using military families as “political pawns.”

“We don’t need to use military families as political pawns,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That is a mistake… the military and their families – they sacrifice enough. They don’t need to be a pawn in Congress. But look at the political games that continue to play out.”

When asked about Sullivan and Romney’s calls for the Defense Department to make some concessions to Tuberville, Schumer declared: “It’s absurd, absurd.”

“It is caused by Tuberville, solely by Tuberville. You have to go back. They should tell Tuberville, and maybe privately, that he should back off,” he said.

Sullivan said efforts to promote potential compromises with Schumer, Austin and other top Biden officials have failed to gain momentum.

“There is not much sense of commitment on the other side. That is worrying,” she stated. “I asked some very prominent Democratic senators, ‘Hey, why don’t you put that up the flagpole?’… There doesn’t seem to be any interest in that regard.

“I’m concerned that the longer this goes on, the more it will impact families,” she said. “Ninety-eight percent of the suspensions I’ve seen in my career…are resolved through compromises.”

He and other Republicans argue that Schumer could ease the backlog in stalled military promotions by bringing some of them to a vote, a time-consuming process.

But Democrats argue it would set a bad precedent to hold votes on dozens of non-political military appointments. They also say it looks bad to hold votes on high-ranking officials and leave lower-ranking ones in limbo.

“We don’t care about voting for the people. We oppose voting on some of the top brass and punishing everyone else,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “As one of the higher-ups, you wouldn’t say, ‘Great, kick me out and punish everyone else.’

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