Senate Democrats plan to bypass Sen. Tuberville’s pro-life blockade on military promotions — By: Catholic News Agency

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, speaks to reporters on his way to a closed-door lunch meeting with Senate Republicans at the U.S. Capitol Nov. 7, 2023, in Washington, D.C. / Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 10, 2023 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Senate Democrats, led by Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, are planning to bypass a pro-life blockade on military promotions by Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

Reed introduced a resolution last week to temporarily change Senate rules to allow the hundreds of military promotions being held up to be approved in one single vote. Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar has announced the resolution will be taken up in committee next Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Tuberville has held his blockade on military promotions for the past nine months. He has said he will continue blocking the military’s most senior officers from being promoted until the Defense Department drops its program paying for abortion travel, which he says is illegal.

For months Democrats have unsuccessfully pressured Tuberville to drop his hold. Now they believe Reed’s resolution will be able to bypass Tuberville entirely. But the resolution must first be passed by the Senate Rules Committee before it can be brought to a vote before the full Senate.

Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, has signaled her full support for the resolution.

“Enough is enough,” Klobuchar said in an X post on Tuesday. “Right now, Sen. Tuberville is holding our military chain of command hostage.”

Klobuchar said that Reed’s proposal “will allow us to finally move forward and fill critical positions.”

Reed’s resolution would allow the Senate to confirm multiple senior military promotions all at once in a single vote rather than by individual votes as they are normally done. The rule change would be temporary, only lasting for the remainder of the current congressional session. Nominees to the Defense Department’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and commanders of combatant commands would not be included in the rule change.

If passed by the Rules Committee, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, has already said that he will bring the resolution to a vote. Though Democrats hold a majority in the Senate, the resolution must reach a minimum threshold of 60 votes to be passed. This means nine Republicans would need to vote in favor of Reed’s resolution.

Since Tuberville began his blockade in February, Democrats have been highly critical of him and have accused him of endangering U.S. military readiness. More recently, at least six Senate Republicans — Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Indiana Sen. Todd Young, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — have joined Democrats in publicly opposing Tuberville’s block.

In a Monday statement, Klobuchar said Tuberville is “holding our military chain of command hostage and threatening our national security.”

“Sen. Tuberville has put a hold on over 350 military officers, from the head of the Pacific Air Command to the director of Cyber Command,” Klobuchar said. “Sen. Tuberville refuses to heed the warnings of our top military officials. He refuses to even cooperate with members of his own party who have pleaded with him to lift this hold.”

Tuberville has firmly denied that his block is negatively impacting military readiness.

“My hold is not affecting readiness,” Tuberville said during a debate on the Senate floor last week. “The Biden administration has been saying this for months, but nobody has an explanation, nobody. The fact is that no jobs are going unfilled. Every job is being done. In fact, Gen. Mark Milley [the recently retired head of the military joint chiefs of staff] said recently that our readiness is the best that it has been in years.”

“Time and again generals and service members have assured me that they’re ready to go,” he went on. “I believe them, so I’m going to keep my holds in place.”

Tuberville has explained that his block is about defending the lives of unborn babies and following a law known as the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal tax dollars from being used for abortion.

“The Pentagon is now paying for travel and extra time off for service members and their dependents to get abortions. Congress never voted for this, we also never appropriated the money for this,” he said last week. “This is a policy that is illegal and immoral.”

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