Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama plans to force a vote to confirm Marine Corps Gen. Eric Smith as the service’s top military leader after the same senator’s blanket action blocked his promotion for months.
President Joe Biden nominated Smith to serve as Commandant in July after his predecessor retired in July, leaving the service without a confirmed head for the first time in 164 years as Tuberville held up promotions for all generals and admirals.
Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has so far refused to call individual votes on the now more than 300 nominees, but Tuberville has secured enough Republican support to force Schumer’s hand, Heritage Foundation Vice President of Communications Rob Bluey said in a social media statement, which Tuberville’s office then re-posted.
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A spokesperson confirmed the contents of the post to the DCNF.
“Tuberville is now calling their bluff,” Bluey wrote.
Tuberville reportedly met with Republicans earlier on Tuesday and solicited enough backing to bring Smith’s nomination to the floor for a cloture vote, Bluey said.
Service civilian leaders have doubled down on pleas for Tuberville to relent his holds on military promotions, implemented to gain leverage against a Pentagon policy covering travel for abortion, over the Pentagon’s abortion policy because they believe it is eroding America’s military readiness and reputation. Tuberville maintains the holds are not impacting military readiness and only inconvenience those at the highest ranks who are subject to his blockade.
Even Smith spoke up, telling the Marine Corps Times in September that his current pace of operations, fulfilling duties of both acting commandant and assistant to the commandant, is “not sustainable.”
One option to break Tuberville’s holds is to go through each nomination one by one, but that process is time consuming and widely seen as untenable, although the senator from Alabama previously expressed openness to the possibility.
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Senate Democrats say the process would consume too much floor time and have not shown a willingness to vote on even some of the highest ranking positions.
Even if Smith does get confirmed, the assistant commandant position will remain vacant. The nominee to be the Navy’s top military leader told Congress Thursday it could take “years” to untangle military promotions as a result of Tuberville’s blockade.
The Marine Corps did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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