Republican Senator Tommy Tumberville from Alabama has been blocking military confirmations and promotions for months now.
But, on Thursday, the U.S. Senate was able to circumvent his blockade to finally confirm the nominations of three senior leaders in the military.
By a 95-1 vote, Admiral Lisa Franchetti was confirmed to be the head of the Navy. She will now become the first woman to serve as a service chief in the Pentagon and the first woman to hold a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Also by a 95-1 vote, General David Allvin was confirmed to serve as the U.S. Air Force’s chief of staff.
Later on Thursday, the Senate also confirmed Lieutenant General Christopher Mahoney, who will serve as the U.S. Marine Corps.’ assistant commander.
This year so far, Tuberville has been able to hold up nearly 400 military nominations as part of a larger protest of a new abortion policy the Pentagon put into place for service members and their families. His actions have drawn heavy criticism from members of both political parties, but that hasn’t stopped him at all.
On Wednesday night, several GOP senators held the floor for more than four hours to call up 61 nominations for votes. In doing so, they praised each one of them for the service they’ve given to the military.
But, Tuberville wouldn’t back down. Instead, he stood and then objected to every one of the nominations.
Allvin has been serving as the acting chief of the Air Force ever since General CQ Brown started serving as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on October 1. He’s a career air mobility pilot, and he has 4,600 flight hours, as well as deployments in Europe and Afghanistan.
Mahoney will now become acting commandant, taking the place of General Eric Smith temporarily. Smith had to go to the hospital on Sunday after he suffered a medical emergency at his place of residence in Washington, D.C.
Smith is now listed in stable condition and he’s recovering. He was only just confirmed to that job in October, but he’s been serving in two separate high-level positions for many months because of the holds Tuberville has instituted on the appointments.
When Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said earlier this week that they’d be bringing up a nomination for Mahoney to serve as assistant commandant, he said that the sudden emergency Smith suffered is “precisely the kind of avoidable emergency that Senator Tuberville has provoked through his reckless holds.”
Tuberville has said that Schumer could use a workaround – by calling each nomination to the floor separately. That process could take many months, though, because each separate nomination would require multiple days and also multiple votes to make its way around the senator’s objections.
To this point, Schumer has resisted doing that, in hopes to force Tuberville to relent. So far, Tuberville hasn’t budget, while Schumer has only relented for appointments to the top military positions.