Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) is showing no signs of calling off his hold on military promotions, despite erupting tensions between Israel and Hamas.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) on Sunday argued in an interview that the emerging war “underscores the foolishness” of Tuberville’s hold.
The Alabama senator insists, though, that the latest situation changes nothing on his end, even for a subset of promotions related to command positions in the Middle East.
“Does Jack Reed believe that our military leadership is not seamless? Or is it ‘ineffective,’ as he said on the Senate floor weeks ago? Does the Pentagon agree with these claims?” said Steve Stafford, Tuberville’s spokesperson, in a statement. “The hold is still not affecting our readiness and it’s certainly not affecting the readiness of other countries.”
Among those being affected in the Middle East are Rear Adm. George Wikoff, who is set to lead the 5th Fleet, and Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the current commander of the 5th Fleet who is in line to become deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, which helms military operations and troops in that region.
Stafford added that if lawmakers want to move ahead on nominations of this kind, they should do so individually.
“If Democrats want to confirm these nominees then they should tell [Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)] to come back from China and they should file a cloture petition just like Coach [Tuberville] did,” Stafford said in the statement. “But they refuse to do that. Or the Pentagon could simply drop its illegal and immoral policy and Coach would lift his hold the next day.”
Tuberville’s hold, which is in its seventh month, is in protest of a Pentagon policy, put in place last year, that covers travel expenses for service members seeking abortion care.
Tuberville last month tried to unilaterally force a vote on the new commandant of the Marine Corps. Schumer preempted his push by scheduling votes on Gen. Charles “C.Q.” Brown to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Randy George to become the new Army chief of staff and Gen. Eric Smith to lead the Marine Corps.
The Senate is currently out of session and will return to work next week.