Democrats Hold Senator Tuberville Accountable for Marine’s Medical Emergency

( – Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) began a legislative blockage of military promotions in February in protest over a Pentagon abortion policy. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has accused Tuberville of affecting military readiness and National security through his pursuit. Reed held the Alabama senator accountable after Marine Commandant Gen. Eric Smith, who must also continue serving as the Assistant Commandant because of the blockade, suffered a heart attack on October 29.

Tuberville vowed to maintain his blockade so long as the Pentagon kept policies enabling female soldiers to travel across state lines to obtain health procedures not offered in states where they serve, up to and including abortion. The result is that the senator’s hold on all one-star general and admiral nominees and above has prevented the Senate from processing up to 380 military promotions using a series of speedy batch voice votes as it usually would, creating a logjam effect throughout the military branches at all levels of service.

Reporters had previously asked Smith about covering both top positions in the Marine Corps (USMC). He had reported working daily from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. to cover all the duties. In August, President Joe Biden nominated Lt.Gen. Christopher Mahoney for a fourth star and appointment as Assistant Commandant of the USMC, but Tuberville blocked the promotion. While Smith remains hospitalized and recuperates, Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, the ranking officer assigned to USMC headquarters, is serving as Acting Commandant.

On the evening of November 1, a group of Republican senators led by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), a Marine reservist, held the Senate floor for several hours while forcing Tuberville to object to each of 61 individual military promotion nominations. Sullivan called the experienced men and women of the current military ranks “probably the most combat-experienced generation since World War II” and characterized punishing them over policy disputes over which they hold no control as unfair and “ridiculous.”

Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Todd Young (R-IN), and Mitt Romney (R-UT) joined Sullivan. The group proposed several alternative actions to Tuberville that wouldn’t impact readiness or punish individuals who can’t change policy as his current blockade does.

On November 2, the Senate confirmed three top military officers: Gen. David Allvin as chief of staff of the Air Force, Adm. Lisa Franchetti as chief of naval operations, and Lt. Gen. Mahoney to receive his fourth star and posting as Assistant Commandant of the USMC. Mahoney will step in as Acting Commandant until Smith returns.

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