Senate confirms chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, avoiding Tuberville blockade | ET REALITY

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The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, bypassing a Pentagon promotion block imposed by Sen. Tommy Tuberville.

The vote was 83 to 11 and was expected to be followed by confirmations from the heads of the Marine Corps and Army, which have also been delayed for months by Tuberville, an Alabama Republican, over the administration’s abortion access policies. Defense Department.

Gen. Brown will succeed Army Gen. Mark A. Milley when he steps down as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the end of the month.

Democratic majority leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York bypassed the Tuberville hurdle by submitting each individual nomination to a full Senate vote. But hundreds more promotions remain in limbo because of Tuberville’s objections.

Schumer had been reluctant to force a vote on individual candidates for fear of being seen as capitulating to Tuberville, whose tactics he has likened to hostage-taking. The Alabama senator has been blocking a series of promotions of top generals and admirals in an effort to force the Pentagon to reverse a policy, implemented after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, to give time off and reimburse service members who had to travel to obtain abortion or fertility services.

“The Senate will vote overwhelmingly to confirm them, and these three honorable men will finally be able to take office,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “And the abortion policy that Senator Tuberville abhors will continue. Senator Tuberville will have achieved nothing.”

While Tuberville said he appreciated their quick approvals, he added that he would not relent in his push to eliminate the abortion access policy. She was among 11 Republican senators who voted against General Brown’s nomination, despite having indicated to reporters in recent months that he would support it.

“They finally realized I wasn’t going to give in. I still don’t,” Tuberville told reporters Wednesday. “They have to do the right thing and push back on the policy.”

The White House praised the action but criticized Tuberville for refusing to back down.

Schumer’s move, said White House spokesman John F. Kirby, was good for the three generals, their military branches and the Defense Department as a whole, but “it does not solve the problem or provide a path forward for the others.” 316″. generals and flag officers who are held back by this ridiculous control.”

In March, the Pentagon enacted a policy that provides time off and travel reimbursement to service members who need to leave the state to obtain an abortion or other forms of reproductive health services, in an effort to give troops equal access to such attention regardless of where they are. They are parked.

Tuberville, who had previously warned that he would protest the policy change if it were enacted, has since dug in, refusing to allow nominations to move forward even as leaders of his own party publicly repudiated his efforts as dangerous to military readiness. Instead, he has repeatedly demanded that the Pentagon repeal its policy unless Congress passes a law explicitly codifying it, and challenged Schumer to use cumbersome procedural maneuvers if he wants to get around his objections.

Before the Tuberville protest, the Senate regularly approved high-ranking military promotions in large blocks without controversy, a practice established to save precious work hours. While Schumer has had the power to force a vote on each individual promotion, he has resisted because doing so for the hundreds pending would have consumed the Senate’s attention for weeks. He also feared that this could encourage other senators to employ similar tactics to protest federal policies in the future.

Schumer changed his mind Wednesday after Tuberville threatened to bypass his own blockade and demand that the Senate hold a vote on the nomination of General Smith, the first of three newly confirmed chiefs to appear for a hearing before the Services Committee Armed Senate. That would have allowed Tuberville to mitigate accusations that he has jeopardized national security by leaving the military’s top ranks without permanent leaders and full powers.

Schumer ridiculed Tuberville’s latest tactic on the floor Wednesday, accusing the Alabama senator of acting underhandedly and “essentially trying to become the gatekeeper of which officers get promoted and who sits back and waits.”

“He’s desperate to shift responsibility to others,” Schumer said. “The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the senator from Alabama.”

Tuberville in turn accused Schumer of having mismanaged the situation and underestimating his determination.

“This suspension does not affect preparation,” Tuberville said. “If Democrats want to complain, they should look in the mirror. I don’t control the floor; Democrats do it.”

It was not immediately clear whether Schumer would intend to continue holding such votes on high-profile pending military promotions. The Armed Services Committee is expected to soon recommend Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti to the full Senate for confirmation as the next chief of naval operations, and in the coming weeks, the panel is expected to consider Gen. David Allvin’s nomination for occupy the position. as the new chief of staff of the Air Force.

Mr. Kirby noted that doing so for each pending promotion could take up to 700 hours, adding: “That’s not only unrealistic; “It is dangerous for our national security.”

Erica L. Green contributed with reports.

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