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On Tuesday, the Senate Rules Committee voted along party-lines to advance a resolution that would allow Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to advance the military promotions and nominations that Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has placed holds on due to the Pentagon’s illegal abortion policy. Under the policy, which violates 10 U.S.C. 1093, female servicemembers and their dependents can receive paid time off for abortions, and travel expenses are covered if the abortion takes place in another state. There is no gestational limit for such abortions. We’ve been hearing about such a resolution for weeks, but it finally happened on Tuesday afternoon, as Senate Chairman of the Armed Services Committee Jack Reed (D-RI) was all too happy to share.
As Reed’s release explained:
Today, the Senate Rules Committee voted 9-7 to advance a temporary standing order resolution (S. Res. 444) sponsored by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, that would allow for a bipartisan super-majority of 60 or more Senators to override Tuberville’s blanket blockade of military promotions.
Now that the Senate Rules Committee advanced the bill, it may be considered by the full U.S. Senate. However, the Senate must first contend with passing appropriations legislation to prevent a government shutdown.
Reed has been one of the particularly vocal Democratic senators opposed to Tuberville’s holds, as he’s sought to bring nominations to the floor, often making remarks railing against his fellow senator.
The release also claims that the “resolution is not a rule change,” but a rule change has been a concern for many Senate Republicans, even those not fully on board with Tuberville’s holds.
“GOP frets as Senate Dems move to break Tuberville’s military holds,” claimed a Tuesday headline from POLITICO after the 9-7 vote took place. However, the piece began by acknowledging key points about this Republican Party that supposedly “frets”:
Several Senate Republicans have made a public show of grousing about Tommy Tuberville’s blanket holds on military nominations. They’re still not ready to sideline “Coach.”
On Tuesday, not a single Republican sided with Democrats as the Senate Rules Committee advanced a resolution that would allow mass confirmations of those nominees for the rest of the Congress, an effort that would effectively end Tuberville’s holds. Instead, Republicans sought more time to end the quarrel internally — after eight months of failing to do so.
Republicans had the opportunity to stick it to Tuberville in committee and didn’t — though they’re likely to soon have another chance on the floor, where it really counts.
The Senate GOP is really hoping it doesn’t come to that.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) added that “nobody wants to go down that path.” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said “everybody’s torn on the thing” and that she’d rather see the GOP “keep proceeding to try to find a solution.” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) echoed that he’d “like a better option” than to support the temporary rules change.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been among the most outspoken GOP opponents of Tuberville’s tactics. But he opposed the measure in committee “at this particular moment,” though he thanked those who worked on it and reiterated the other ways for Republicans to register their disapproval of Pentagon policy.
Tuberville still has significant support from other Republicans, not just in the Senate, but in the House as well. Grassroots leaders and veterans also support Tuberville with sticking to the rule of law and right to life with his holds, as do Alabama voters.
When it comes to those fellow Republicans who might be opposed to the move, he managed to fend them off earlier this month as an effort to confirm nominations came from Republican Sens. Dan Sullivan (AK), Todd Young (IN), Lindsey Graham (SC), and Joni Ernst (IA). The POLITICO piece speaks to how even some of those senators have been among those with positive things to say about Tuberville:
“He’s very well-liked. If he was an a**hole, no one would want to help him,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “Accommodating kind of a guy. And that’s why all of us are trying to find a way that’s good for him and us.”
“His own colleagues have given him a lot of leeway,” added Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who called Tuberville a friend. “But he knows it’s running thin.”
“He’s got a winsome personality, and I think people think he’s approaching this out of a deep sense of deep conviction,” Thune said. “Which I think gives him more latitude.”
“He’s a really nice guy,” echoed Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who disagrees with Tuberville’s tactics. “I imagine he’s used to people yelling from the stands telling him they’re doing something wrong. I don’t think [coaches are] terribly influenced by what people might yell from the seats.”
Schumer has expressed hope that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will do something about the holds, although that doesn’t look to be happening, at least not for the timing being.
It’s worth reminding that Schumer also has the ability to call for individual votes on the nominees, which Tuberville is not only not opposed to, but has reminded the majority leader he has had this power to do all along. Schumer has, in fact, caved twice already, as he did in September and just a few weeks ago.
Townhall reached out to Tuberville’s office and will update this piece accordingly.