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Senate confirms 425 military nominees after Sen. Tommy Tuberville drops his hold

Tuberville "has nothing to show for his 10 months of delay," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a scathing speech after the nominees were confirmed. Tuberville has retained his holds on roughly 11 other promotions.
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WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed more than 400 military nominees Tuesday afternoon after Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., announced he would drop the bulk of his holds, ending a monthslong campaign.

Tuberville told reporters earlier Tuesday that he had lifted his hold on all military promotions at three-star rank and below, amounting to over 425 promotions.

“I’m releasing everybody. I still got a hold on, I think, 11 four-star generals. Everybody else is completely released from me.” Tuberville told reporters. “But other than that, it’s over.”

Hours later, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., took to the Senate floor to confirm all 425 of those nominees unanimously, saying members of the military and their families "can breathe a sigh of relief."

He then took aim at Tuberville for his 10-month hold, saying it risked national security while putting military families through a "pointless and gravely damaging ordeal." Schumer went on to warn other senators against pursuing a similar tactic in the future.

“Let this incident be a warning,” Schumer said, “No one — no one — should attempt this in the Senate again. The senior senator from Alabama has nothing to show for his 10 months of delay.”

President Joe Biden said in a statement Tuesday that the "confirmations are long overdue, and should never have been held up in the first place."

"In the end, this was all pointless," Biden said, adding that "Tuberville, and the Republicans who stood with him, needlessly hurt hundreds of servicemembers and military families and threatened our national security — all to push a partisan agenda. I hope no one forgets what he did."

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., in Washington in March 2022.Mariam Zuhaib / AP file

Tuberville had been holding up military nominations in protest of the Defense Department's policy that allows service members to be reimbursed for travel costs related to getting abortions. The policy is still in place.

Schumer said the Senate "will work to confirm the rest of the nominees" whom Tuberville is blocking "soon." It’s not clear whether the Senate will process those one by one in the coming weeks or whether Democrats will push to do them as a group.

Tuberville had signaled last week that he might drop some of his holds “very soon,” as pressure from members of both parties mounted. He didn’t specify at the time how many promotions he would let through but said he wanted to get as many people as possible through “in the next week or so” and wouldn’t decide based on “levels” of rankings.

“I know these people, you know, need to be promoted," he said last week.

Earlier Tuesday, Tuberville announced a news conference about the holds for 1:40 p.m. ET and then canceled it with giving a reason.

Some of the military nominees Tuberville had blocked for months included top officers who would command U.S. forces in the Middle East. Since Hamas' attack on Israel on Oct. 7, the Pentagon has moved aircraft and military carriers into the region to help assist and support Israel.

Tuberville drew criticism from members of his own party. A group of Republican senators tried multiple times on the Senate floor to confirm military nominees, but every time, Tuberville blocked them. Schumer thanked that group in his remarks Tuesday afternoon.

GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley had also denounced Tuberville's effort, saying in August that his blockade was having a detrimental effect on service members, as well as military readiness.

Top military leaders, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, warned for months about the consequences of Tuberville's hold, including the possibility of losing talent.

Schumer said last week that he would bring to the floor a Democratic resolution to bypass Tuberville's holds, but it wasn't clear whether he'd have the votes to pass it.

As frustrations with Tuberville built within his own party, Senate Republicans last week began to express optimism that he would come to a resolution on his blockade before members left for the new year.

“I was involved in a lot of conversations over the weekend on this subject, and I think that I’m hopeful," Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told reporters Tuesday morning. "I’m hopeful that today, we’re going to — keep your fingers crossed, we’ll see, I hope we have a breakthrough, but time will tell.”