McConnell opposes Tuberville’s maintain on army nominees
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., speaks in the course of the Senate Agriculture, Vitamin, and Forestry Subcommittee on Commodities, Danger Administration, and Commerce on Commodity Packages, Credit score and Crop Insurance coverage listening to at Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Could 2, 2023,
By Mary Clare Jalonick
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican Chief Mitch McConnell mentioned Wednesday that he received’t help a fellow GOP senator’s blockade of army nominees, backing Democrats and Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin who’ve mentioned that the holdup is harming nationwide safety.
Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville is objecting to the usually routine observe of confirming dozens of army nominations, a transfer that will drive the Senate to carry probably a whole lot of votes to substantiate non-controversial senior army officers. Tuberville has not backed down from his now-monthslong pledge to carry up the nominees over the Pentagon’s abortion coverage, which offers journey funds and help for troops and dependents who search abortions however are primarily based in states the place they’re now unlawful.
“No, I don’t help placing a maintain on army nominations,” McConnell informed reporters, in response to a query about Tuberville’s blockade. “I don’t help that. However as to why, you’ll must ask Sen. Tuberville.”
McConnell’s feedback haven’t any sensible impact on Tuberville’s holds, as a result of any senator can maintain up any Senate motion. However the GOP chief’s place additional isolates the Alabama Republican as lawmakers and nationwide safety officers have mentioned that the holdup could have harmful results.
In a letter despatched final week to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, Austin wrote that he has “deep concern” concerning the delays in confirmations. He mentioned the Pentagon estimates that roughly 650 officers coated by the maintain – these on the one-star to four-star ranges – would require Senate affirmation between now and the top of the yr.
The delays pose “a transparent threat to U.S. army readiness, particularly at his important time,” Austin wrote, including that by no means earlier than has one senator held up so many officers. The glut of vacancies would break down the division’s regular circulate of management and breed uncertainty and confusion, he mentioned, risking operations in “each theater, each area, and each service.”
At a listening to earlier this yr, Austin defended the abortion coverage by saying that tens of hundreds of girls within the army dwell and work in areas that don’t have common reproductive well being care. “This coverage relies on robust authorized floor,” he mentioned.
A spokesman for Tuberville mentioned Wednesday that McConnell’s feedback haven’t modified his place. The senator has mentioned repeatedly that he received’t budge.
“Secretary Austin thought abortion is extra necessary than his highest-level army nominations,” he mentioned late final month, after Democrats tried to name up the nominations on the Senate flooring. “Secretary Austin might finish the coverage immediately, and I’d carry my maintain. Secretary Austin has chosen not to do this.”
Tuberville has argued that Schumer can deliver the nominations to the Senate flooring at any time and maintain particular person votes. However every nomination would require a minimum of two votes and days of Senate time, and Democrats have argued that it might set a harmful precedent to carry partisan votes on routine army nominations which have historically been unanimously authorised by voice vote.
Schumer mentioned on the Senate flooring Wednesday that Republicans are keen to jeopardize U.S. “standing overseas, the livelihood of service members, and our army readiness” over the problem of abortion entry.
“Our nationwide safety is just not a bargaining chip for radical right-wing insurance policies,” Schumer mentioned.
Related Press author Lolita Baldor contributed to this report.
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