Senator Tommy Tuberville, an Alabama Republican, is taking a “victory lap” in conservative media for holding up hundreds of military promotions, including some that recently had to be confirmed individually by Senate votes.
Tuberville has been in the crosshairs of numerous Democrats, groups and organizations due to delaying military appointments and promotions for what he attributes to “woke” policies perpetuated by the Pentagon, notably regarding abortion and the federal government covering some service members’ expenses for traveling to undergo the medical procedure if they were located in a state where they could not get one.
On Wednesday, following the Senate’s confirmation of General Charles Q. Brown Jr. as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said Tuberville has “accomplished nothing” with his delays. Rather than approve military appointments in large batches as has been customary in the past, the Senate now individually has to confirm members. The same process led to successful promotions for General Eric Smith as commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and General Randy George as the chief of staff to the U.S. Army earlier this week.
“Senator Tuberville’s hold still impacts over 300 nominees and remains unnecessary at a critical moment for our national security,” a Department of Defense (DOD) official told Newsweek via email on Friday. “We want the Senate to approve all of our nominees, but how the Senate decides to do that is up to them.”
Larry Kudlow, a Fox Business host and former director of the National Economic Council during the Trump administration, said Thursday during an interview with the senator that the score was “Tuberville 10, Schumer zero.” He also told Tuberville that he should “take a victory lap.”
“We called [Schumer’s] bluff, Larry,” Tuberville said. “We signed a petition that the minority [in the Senate] could do one thing to get a vote on the floor, and that’s to get 16 signatures from your fellow senators. We got that, we took it to Schumer. He said, ‘Well, I’m not gonna let you do that. I’m gonna do it myself because I don’t want to look bad.’ We made him blink.”
The former Auburn University football coach who was elected in 2020 added that he has no intention to drift from his current holds until the abortion policy is rescinded.
Steven Stafford, Tuberville’s communications director, told Newsweek following Schumer’s comments that the vote on Brown meant that “the Senate floor schedule” had been successfully changed and Tuberville “exposed the falsehood” of Democrats.
“Coach [how Stafford refers to Tuberville] just exposed the falsehood of Democrats’ attacks on him and set up the confirmation of two nominees he supports,” Stafford said. “Coach just changed the Senate floor schedule despite being a freshman Senator in the minority party, something that almost never happens. And Democrats know that he can do it again.”
Stafford referred Newsweek on Friday to his previous comments.
Tuberville, in a conversation with Breitbart News published Thursday, reiterated how he forced Schumer to make a decision regarding nominees—saying that a “national security threat” never existed based on his hold-ups.
“I am pro-military and we have got some good people in the military,” Tuberville said. “We’ve got some good leaders, we’ve got some good soldiers. We got people from top to bottom that really believe in this country.
“But the problem is a lot of our leadership that’s coming out of the White House and from the old Obama administration, they want to change our military to something that it’s never been. They want to involve politics in it. They want to indoctrinate people in socialism and something that we’re not familiar with at all. And so, that’s what we’re fighting with all these 300 nominees.”
Tuberville’s actions have drawn public scrutiny from a variety of military members and organizations.
On Monday, The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), the largest and oldest veterans service organization in the country that includes over 1.5 million members, sent Tuberville a letter requesting he “lift his hold on the routine promotion of military generals and flag officers.”
“The line in the sand for the VFW is simple: Political disputes must be handled by politicians, not within the ranks of the all-volunteer force,” VFW National commander-in-chief Duane Sarmiento said in a statement. “Sen. Tuberville’s hold on these routine promotions has consequences up and down the active-duty force that will take years to fix. By sending this letter, the VFW is making our voice very clear—this is not the way Congress should do business.”
Earlier this month, U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro accused the Alabama Republican of “aiding and abetting communist and other autocratic regimes.”
Del Toro, U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and U.S. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth wrote a joint opinion piece earlier this month for The Washington Post claiming that arguing about Tuberville’s block is “putting our national security at risk” and is “unfair to those military leaders and their families” who are impacted.
Tuberville responded to their piece as “woke propaganda.”