For the first time in history, all three military branches lack Senate-confirmed leaders, attributed to Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) delaying over 300 senior military officer confirmations in opposition to the Pentagon’s new abortion policy.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville Hold Leaves Military Services Without Heads
Admiral Mike Gilday stepped down as Chief of Naval Operations on Monday. Admiral Lisa Franchetti, who was nominated to take his place, is among over 300 military officers facing delayed promotions due to Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville’s protest against Pentagon policies related to reproductive health, as reported by KSL.
Adm. Lisa Franchetti, nominated by President Biden as the Navy’s first female leader, will temporarily assume the role in an acting capacity. Franchetti, currently the vice chief of naval operations, is set to become the first woman in the role of Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), marking a historic milestone. This move would also make her the first woman to join the joint chiefs of staff, as reported by CNN.
The Sen. Tommy Tuberville protest centers around a policy that offers paid leave and travel cost coverage for military members seeking abortions. Sen. Tommy Tuberville contends that this policy contradicts the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding for abortions.
Hold on Confirmations Threatens 650+ Military Nominations
The Defense Department believes that the delay could affect over 650 military appointments by the end of the year. This affects not only those 650 officers but also the officers taking their positions, the ones filling in for them, and their families. Gen. Mark Milley stated in May that he expects a total of 3,000 to 4,000 people to be directly affected by the end of the year if the delay persists.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville has halted key military appointments to protest the Defense Department‘s policy enabling service members to get reproductive health care leave and funding for travel, including abortion. Sen. Tommy Tuberville intends to keep the hold in place until the Defense Department reverses the policy or Congress approves it as a law. Stafford, the spokesperson for Sen. Tommy Tuberville, clarified on Monday that the senator isn’t preventing votes; he’s compelling votes. This places the onus on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to conduct separate votes for each nomination.
According to the Congressional Research Service, confirming military nominations would take over 80 days of Senate work if they dedicated eight hours a day to the task. As neither the Pentagon nor Sen. Tommy Tuberville is willing to yield, the deadlock puts the confirmation of Gen. C.Q. Brown in jeopardy. He’s set to become the new top military officer as Gen. Mark Milley’s term ends in September.