Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama on Tuesday released the bulk of his holds for Senate votes to confirm military promotions, allowing for the quick confirmation of hundreds of nominees.
The Senate confirmed hundreds of top military nominations by voice vote on Tuesday evening, hours after Tuberville announced his decision. He told his colleagues in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill that he would release the promotions for three-star nominees and below, the vast majority of the nominees.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took to the floor to celebrate the confirmations, and to attack Tuberville’s hold as an “unsuccessful and risky strategy” that caused significant harm to military readiness, service members and their families.
“Today, hundreds – hundreds – of military families across the country can breathe a sigh of relief,” Schumer said. “The Senate has now unanimously confirmed hundreds of military confirmations that were held up for 10 months by a single person, the senator from Alabama. Thank God, these military officers will now get the military promotions that they so rightfully earned.”
The move comes after Tuberville faced bipartisan pressure to cease his blanket hold on military promotions over a Defense Department reproductive rights policy. Tuberville’s hold started in March and delayed the confirmations of more than 450 top military nominees.
Tuberville, in an interview Tuesday evening in his office, told CNN, “I can’t win” and that he had no choice but to capitulate after his holds caused a growing backlash within his own party. Yet he contended that his stand “helped” national security even as the Pentagon sounded alarms that his blockade was causing serious damage to the military.
“Oh, no. I think it helped it. I think people opened their eyes a little bit,” he said when asked about concerns that his stand hurt national security.
“Yeah, I could care less what they say,” Tuberville added, in reference to the Pentagon, attacking administration officials for not negotiating a compromise with him.
Tuberville made the announcement during a Senate lunch that he was backing off the military holds with the exception of fewer than a dozen four-star promotions. He said it was important that Republicans be united and not vote for a rules changes that would have allowed Schumer, a Democrat from New York, to bring up nominees en bloc.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said that he was “glad” most of them will be confirmed soon.
“I’m glad this has come to the end. I agree with his concerns about the Pentagon policy of using taxpayer dollars to fund travel for abortions, but I think the blanket hold approach is really punishing people who had nothing to do with that,” he told CNN.
“When you have a policy dispute with any Cabinet within an administration, just don’t suck the military into it. Go after the civilians who did it,” Graham added.
Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona sent a brief statement on Tuberville’s decision.
“About damn time,” read Kelly’s entire statement.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Manu Raju, Haley Britzky, Morgan Rimmer and Sam Fossum contributed to this report.
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