Senate Democrats took a critical step towards ending Tommy Tuberville’s eight-month-long blockade on military nominations.
The Rules Committee on Tuesday advanced a resolution that would allow military nominations to be confirmed en masse — an effort that would spoil Tuberville’s hold on military promotions, which he’s vowed to continue until the Pentagon reverses an abortion policy. There are more than 400 military officer nominations in the backlog, meaning individual votes on those promotions would take hundreds of hours.
The resolution, led by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), was passed out of committee by a 9-7 vote along party lines. Senators have debated the best way to move past Tuberville’s holds for months and Sinema especially tried to move Democrats away from the extreme step of unilaterally changing chamber rules. The measure requires 60 votes to pass, meaning at least nine Republicans would have to support it on the Senate floor.
But those prospects are iffy — because Senate Republicans certainly didn’t want it to come to this.
Earlier this month, a group of Republican senators tried to press Tuberville on the floor to pass the nominations individually. He objected to every nomination they brought forward. GOP senators also held an unusual special conference last week to hash out ideas on how to get Tuberville to relent on his blanket holds. That didn’t work either.
Still, Senate Republicans aren’t eager to circumvent the power of an individual senator. They also don’t want to side against anti-abortion advocates, even as the military community has grown increasingly hostile over the holds and criticized Tuberville for jeopardizing national security.
Senate Majority Leader Schumer said he will bring the resolution to the floor unless Senate Republicans quickly find some other way to force Tuberville’s hand.