Three military services are no longer confirmed by the Senate for the first time in history, because Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) is holding the confirmations of more than 300 senior military officers to protest the Pentagon’s new abortion policy.
The Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday resigned from his post on Monday, leaving the Navy, Army and Marine Corps with acting heads.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday criticized the standoff, which has stretched into a fifth month with no resolution in sight.
“Because of this blanket hold, for the first time in the history of the Department of Defense, three of our military services are operating without Senate-confirmed leaders,” Austin said during a Gilday relinquishment ceremony in US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. “It’s unprecedented, it’s unnecessary, and it’s unsafe. And this force deterrence is undermining America’s military readiness.
President Biden appointed Adm. Lisa Franchetti to be the first woman to head the Navy. Instead, he will take over in an acting capacity.
The policy Tuberville is protesting allows for paid leave and paid travel for service members seeking an abortion, which Tuberville says is a violation of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding from being used for abortions. .
Arguing that U.S. troops “deserve better,” Austin said blocking military promotions prevents the military services from keeping the “best” officers while “uplifting” more American families.
“Smooth and swift transitions of confirmed leadership are central to the defense of the United States and the full strength of the deadliest fighting force in history,” Austin said. “And it’s time for the Senate to confirm all of our qualified military nominees, including the 33rd chief of Naval Operations.”
Tuberville’s office pushed back on Llyod’s comments on Monday, saying the senator’s detention was “prior, necessary, and does not affect readiness.” A spokesman for Tuberville pointed to past military promotion blocks and argued that the senator was following a “bipartisan precedent.”
“This particular stance is necessary because the Biden administration has shown that, unless held accountable, they will continue to break the law and use our tax dollars to advance a far-left agenda,” one statement from Tuberville’s office.
Tuberville’s office pointed to military readiness and admitted there were no jobs “unfilled,” with restraint.
“Against some false reporting, Coach [Tuberville] not blocking votes, he is forcing votes. Chuck Schumer can approve a new Commandant of the Marine Corps in less than three hours,” the statement continued.
Several Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said they did not support Tuberville’s holdings, but failed to reach a deal with Tuberville before the recess. in August.
Senate Majority Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) said it was “up to the Republican leadership,” to move Tuberville off the hook.
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