Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama has “accomplished nothing” after a key military promotion moved forward despite his attempt to block it over an abortion policy, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Schumer, a New York Democrat, lashed out at Tuberville from the Senate floor on Wednesday before holding a vote that successfully confirmed General Charles Q. Brown Jr. as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Hundreds of promotions remain on hold due to Tuberville’s protest over the Pentagon’s policy of covering some expenses for service members who travel for an abortion.
Military promotions are typically approved by the Senate in large batches and with bipartisan support. Brown was the first of three generals that Schumer moved to confirm individually, sidestepping Tuberville’s blockade. Promotions for General Eric Smith to lead the Marine Corps and General Randy George to head the Army are likely to be confirmed soon.
“These three honorable men will finally be able to assume their positions,” Schumer said before the vote on Brown was held. “And the abortion policy that Senator Tuberville abhors will remain in place. Senator Tuberville will have accomplished nothing.”
Steven Stafford, Tuberville’s communications director, said in a statement to Newsweek that the vote on Brown meant that “the Senate floor schedule” had been successfully changed and Tuberville “exposed the falsehood” of Democrats. Stafford referred to Tuberville, a well-known college football coach before entering politics, as “coach.”
“Coach 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.”
While Brown and the two other nominees that Schumer moved forward on Wednesday may see their promotions confirmed, over 300 other promotions remain held up. It is unclear how many more promotions will move forward individually.
Confirming all of the promotions on an individual basis would be a tedious process consuming a significant amount of the Senate’s time, potentially at the expense of the chamber addressing other important issues.
John Kirby, White House national security spokesperson, told reporters on Wednesday that Schumer’s move to confirm Brown and the other generals was “good” but “doesn’t fix the problem or provide a path forward for the 316 other general and flag officers that are held up by this ridiculous hold.”
Brown was confirmed to become the nation’s top military officer by a vote of 83 to 11. He will replace General Mark Milley, who is retiring next month. Tuberville was joined by 10 GOP colleagues in voting against the promotion.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement on Wednesday night that Brown “will be a tremendous leader of our joint force,” while also condemning Tuberville for endangering “national security and military readiness” by continuing the hold for the other nominees.
Brown, who became the first Black service member to lead a U.S. military branch when he was unanimously confirmed as Air Force Chief of Staff in 2020, is set to become only the second Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs, following Colin Powell.