WASHINGTON — Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s hold on military promotions will apply to Air Force Gen. C.Q. Brown Jr.’s elevation to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his spokesperson told NBC News.
Tuberville, R-Ala., has faced bipartisan criticism for stalling promotions of more than 150 military officials in protest of a recent Department of Defense policy that provides travel expenses and paid time off for service members and their dependents seeking abortions.
Biden formally announced Thursday that he has picked Brown to serve as the next chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, replacing Army Gen. Mark Milley when his term ends in October. If Brown is confirmed, he would be the second Black man to hold the position, following the late Colin Powell, who served under former President George W. Bush.
The president called Brown a “fearless leader and unyielding patriot,” noting he was confirmed to his current post as Air Force chief of staff in 2020 by a vote of 98-0. “I urge the Senate to once again confirm General Brown with the same overwhelming bipartisan support from him for his new role,” Biden said.
Senate approval of the promotions of top level-officers and generals is a task that's usually quick and smooth, but any single senator can make it less so. Most military promotions are approved by the Senate by unanimous consent, meaning all 100 senators agree to approve them without a vote.
Tuberville is using a procedural tactic to plug up the speedy confirmation of military officials, which will apply to Brown as well, his office said, because the hold applies to all one-star nominations and above. While Tuberville's hold can’t actually block the Senate from processing any promotion, it can dramatically slow down a process that is typically done without a vote at all.
Adam Hodge, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, said Thursday that "Tuberville is threatening our national security with his political gamesmanship and risking our military readiness by depriving our armed forces of leadership at a critical time."
"As we face persistent threats to our national security all over the world, we need our military nominees — and certainly our next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — to be confirmed quickly. Senators shouldn’t play politics with our military its readiness or our military families," Hodge said in a statement.
Asked earlier this month if he supported Tuberville’s holds, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y., said: “No, I don’t support putting a hold on military nominations. I don’t support that.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in March, “One senator — just one single senator, my colleague from Alabama, Sen. Tuberville — is blocking all general and flag officer confirmations, taking our military, our national security, our safety hostage."
Tuberville has said he will keep the hold on the promotions until the policy is changed. “Over the past 40 years, I don’t recall one military person ever complaining that we weren’t performing enough abortions," he declared at a Senate hearing earlier this year. “I want our military to be the strongest and the deadliest it has ever been but also want the administration to follow the law.”