To defeat Sen. Tommy Tuberville‘s (R-Ala.) blockade of more than 360 military promotions, Senate Democrats are collaborating with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Arizona) and a few Republicans on a rarely employed procedural tactic. The stalemate has consumed the Senate for months.
Democrats eye rare procedural move to defeat Tuberville military holds
To protest the Department of Defense’s (DOD) abortion policies, Democrats are considering using a standing order resolution to move a block of more than 300 nonpolitical military nominees who have been blocked for months due to Tuberville’s holds.
Except for officers nominated to the Joint Chiefs of Staff or to lead a Combatant Command, the resolution would allow the Senate to move military promotions in a group until the end of 2024.
If Tuberville does not lift his holds, the standing order resolution is expected to be introduced next week, according to sources familiar with internal deliberations. First, it will pass the Senate Rules Committee.
A Democratic Party senator who wished to remain anonymous to discuss the delicate subject matter stated, “It’s not a rules change, it’s a standing order resolution because no one wants to fool around with the rules.”
The resolution would be “limited to military nominations,” the senator underlined.
Early in September, Sinema conceived the idea and began collaborating with colleagues in both parties.
Strong bipartisan support and a minimum of 60 votes would be required to end the anticipated filibuster. Currently, Republicans control 49 seats and Democrats 51.
Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, stated that Republicans have already been outreached “good a bit” about the resolution.
Democrats will have difficulty garnering the nine Republican votes required to approve the resolution because conservatives in the Senate GOP conference are already strongly against it.
According to Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.), the nine or ten Republican votes required to defeat Tuberville will “probably” be difficult to secure.
“There’s a lot of discussion out there around it. We’ll see where that lands,” he remarked.
So far, no Republican senator has publicly backed the resolution, and those most likely to vote “yes” have stated that they would rather find a different approach to break the impasse.
A conservative senator issued a warning of political repercussions, stating that any GOP senator who votes with Democrats to thwart Tuberville’s protest of the Pentagon’s policy of covering the travel expenses of service personnel who take leave to get abortions.
Pentagon officials counter that federal law “does not prohibit the use of funds to pay expenses, such as per diem or travel expenses, that are incidental to the abortion,” citing a memo from the Department of Defense’s general counsel dated October 20, 2022.
Democrats also argue that moving the nominees individually would consume valuable floor time and set a bad precedent.
In an interview with The Hill, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who has spent months trying to mediate a settlement between Senate Democrats, Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin, and Tuberville, expressed his hope that a standing order resolution won’t be needed to advance the military promotions.
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