Temporary Rule Change Could End Tuberville's Blockade

Senate could vote on resolution next week, allowing passage of military promotions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2023 9:09 AM CST
Temporary Rule Change Could End Tuberville's Blockade
Sen. Tommy Tuberville questions Navy Adm. Lisa Franchetti during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Sept. 14, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Senators are trying to find a way around a one-man blockade that has thwarted more than 370 military promotions this year. Sen. Tommy Tuberville has been blocking promotions for nine months to protest the Pentagon's policy of paying for travel when a service member needs an out-of-state abortion. A temporary measure introduced by Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, would allow most promotions to be passed with a simple majority. Under current rules, a single senator can hold up batches of promotions. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar tells NPR that she believes there will be enough Republican support for the measure to pass a possible vote next week.

Last week, Republican senators turned on Tuberville over the blockade, with Sen. Lindsey Graham telling him it "is doing great damage to our military." Days earlier, overworked Marine Corps leader Gen. Eric Smith had a heart attack. A few promotions were confirmed last week, but Klobuchar says, "If we voted on them individually, we would literally be going through the year and the government would shut down." Independent Sen. Krysten Sinema helped craft the plan to get around Tuberville, working to ensure that it is a temporary resolution that can pass with 60 votes, not a permanent rules change that would require 67 votes, reports Politico.

The measure will be before the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday and there will be a vote of the full Senate if it is approved. Klobuchar, who would like to see a permanent rules change to prevent similar blockades in future, rejects Tuberville's argument that the military should just "delegate" like he did when he was a football coach. "This isn't a game, Senator Tuberville," she says. "It's not a football game. It's real life." The AP reports that Tuberville's position appears to be softening under heavy pressure from fellow Republicans. After a caucus meeting Tuesday, he suggested that he could lift the blockade under certain circumstances. "I went in with one or two options. I've come out with five or six," he said. (More US military stories.)

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