Concerns over General Eric Smith’s apparent cardiac arrest on Sunday and the rapidly evolving situation in the Middle East come as Washington officials seek a solution to the bitter political standoff between Tuberville (R-Ala.). It has surfaced repeatedly this week. And then there’s the Biden administration, which is focused on the Pentagon’s travel policy for troops seeking abortions. As a result, hundreds of senior military advances dating back to February have stalled.
Wednesday night, including Sen. Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa), Sen. Todd C. Young (Indiana), and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (South Carolina). A remarkable scene unfolded on the Senate floor, with several Republican senators confronting and pleading with Tuberville. He is calling for his release from detention in the interest of national security and for a vote on individual officers whose promotions have been delayed. As his colleagues’ dissatisfaction continued to grow, Mr. Tuberville rejected them one by one, blocking the proposed candidates.
The standoff lasted nearly five hours, with Ernst, a retired Army officer, and Sullivan, a Marine Corps Reserve colonel, taking turns bringing forward the nominations of 61 senior officers. They criticized Mr. Tuberville for previously saying he would abandon nominations submitted for separate votes.
“Xi Jinping likes this. So does President Putin,” Sullivan said at one point, referring to the leaders of China and Russia. “How stupid can we be?”
Sullivan said he has repeatedly raised alternatives to Tuberville that could hold up the nomination of Derek Chollette, Biden’s nominee for undersecretary of defense for policy. It has no role in the policy concerned.
“The key is to put people on hold who usually have some control over the problem you’re trying to solve,” Sullivan says. “Why put our war heroes on hold?”
Kelly Magsamen, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s chief of staff, said he was monitoring the clashes and posted a tweet on Site Thank you for taking a stand for this. One candidate, Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims, works 18 hours a day, seven days a week, she said.
“The world is watching,” she added in another message. “This is not a game.”
amazing public The standoff has exposed some of Mr. Tuberville’s Republican colleagues at breaking point, but not enough for Democrats’ plan to temporarily change Senate rules to neutralize his blockade. It remains unclear whether there will be support from Republicans. The proposal is expected to be voted on in the coming weeks and would need nine Republican senators to support it.
Some Republicans are pushing for Tuberville, who imposed the hold in protest of the Pentagon’s policy of compensating employees who must travel. Out of state It will adjust its strategy on reproductive health and focus instead on political appointments proposed by Biden.
In a brief interview Wednesday, Tuberville said he has no plans to change course. “We’re not going to start backing down now just because people are starting to get cold on my side.” He stuck to that position as the night’s play continued, and his Republican colleagues from the military declared “no” every time he proposed promotions for individual officers.
At one point, Graham raised his voice and said there was a reason other senators hadn’t pursued such a move for so long. “Whether you believe it or not, Sen. Tuberville, this is taking a huge toll on our military,” he said. “I don’t say that lightly. I’ve been trying to work with you for nine months.”
Mr. Tuberville launched a congressional blockade in February to prevent the Senate from using the typical process of confirming uncontroversial nominees dozens or hundreds at a time. The number of military officers caught in the jam was 375, including officers across commands around the world. The Pentagon estimates that by the end of the year, about three-quarters of Pentagon generals and admirals, or 650 out of 852, will be affected.
The Senate could avoid Mr. Tuberville’s detention by voting on officers individually, something that has only been done three times so far, but this time it will vote on all frozen nominations. . it will take many months and prevents action on many other issues.
Mr. Smith, 58, is the commander of the Marine Corps and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The service said in a statement on Wednesday that he remains in stable condition in hospital. Officials have said little about the general’s condition or prognosis, and his family has asked for privacy as he “continues to recover” and updates will be shared “as needed.” He said that it would be.
Until the Senate confirmed his nomination in September, Mr. Smith served as assistant military commander, a post that remained vacant amid the ongoing impasse. He has therefore assumed responsibility for both jobs since July, when his predecessor retired. He was one of the most outspoken military officials about the challenges created by Tuberville’s rule, stating: The workload was not “sustainable.”
It’s unclear how long Smith will be out of work. The issue is especially complicated given the long hours, high pressure and frequent travel his job entails.
For now, the No. 2 position is vacant, and since there are no other four-star Marine Corps generals in the Pentagon, Smith’s duties will be filled by a junior general, Lt. Gen. Carsten Heckle. Marine Corps officials said.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York told reporters on Wednesday that he would temporarily change Senate rules to avoid the Tuberville lockdown and allow senators to vote on a number of military nominees. He said he supports the change. The resolution, sponsored by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (DR.I.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), would need all Democrats and nine Republicans to pass. becomes.
“Patience is wearing thin with Sen. Tuberville on both sides of the aisle,” Schumer said. “What happened to the Marine Corps commander just showed how dangerous it can be to a lot of people.” Tuberville’s ruse proved that. The majority leader said he was “very optimistic” the resolution would pass if voted on, but when asked when that would happen, he said “we’ll see.”
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he thought holding military nominations on hold was a “bad idea.”
“I’m one of the people trying to convince Sen. Tuberville to express his opposition in a different way, by people who actually make policy, not military heroes,” McConnell said.
One Republican lawmaker, who like other Republicans spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss domestic matters, said Republicans offered Tuberville multiple resignations this year, but he refused.
Mr. Smith’s uncertain prognosis and the unpredictability of the war in Gaza are both why lawmakers must find a solution quickly, according to a Senate aide familiar with the discussions, speaking in a closed session of Senate Republicans on Wednesday. It is said that it was taken up as Pending candidates include the potential next commander of the Navy’s 5th Fleet and deputy commander of U.S. Central Command. Both sides hold important leadership functions in the Middle East, and U.S. forces have faced repeated attacks since the war between Israel and Gaza flared up in early October.
“The idea is that this is a really dangerous time and not a time where we want to recover. [junior varsity] “Squads of military officers” are temporarily filling key positions, the aide said.
Schumer filed a motion Tuesday to force an individual vote to fill key vacancies on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Those nominees include Admiral Lisa Franchetti, Biden’s choice to lead the Navy. Gen. David W. Albin is named commander of the Air Force. Lt. Gen. Christopher J. Mahoney, who will be promoted to four-star general, will become the Marine Corps’ No. 2 officer and serve as interim commander in Smith’s absence.
It could be held as early as Thursday.
Tuberville spokesman Stephen Stafford earlier said the senator would seek an individual vote for Mahoney, while Sullivan would seek votes for Allbin and Franchetti. Republicans have criticized Mr. Schumer for not calling in more police officers who were on lockdown to vote individually, and he did so again on Wednesday night.
A vote to overturn Mr. Tuberville’s holds on hundreds of other frozen candidates will likely be weeks away as they still have to go through the committee process. But many Republican senators have rejected the idea, believing it could weaken their ability to block future nominations.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, “I’m not in favor of changing the rules.” I think it would be a threat to the organization. ”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), a moderate Republican who Democrats often call for bipartisan efforts, said Wednesday that although she remains concerned about the impact of Tuberville’s bill, she also He said he would be “cautious” about voting to overturn it. Owned.