U.S. Senators Take to the Floor for More than Five Hours to Speak About Each Individual Military Nominee
[Washington, D.C] – Last night U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, joined a leading group of U.S. Senators on the Senate floor to urge an end to the partisan blockade of merit-based promotions by U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who continues to indefinitely stall the nominations of hundreds of senior U.S. military officers.
“Be aware, America. Be angry, America. I am angry, as a member of the Armed Services Committee, as a dad of two veterans; a Marine Corps officer who served in Afghanistan and a Navy SEAL who served during these last 20 years,” Blumenthal said on the floor of the Senate last night. “These men and women have put their careers, their lives, their families on the line, and now they are waiting because our colleague from Alabama wants to make a political point. He has a political policy, and he is using these military nominees as pawns and hostages. It is nothing short, in effect an assault on our United States military.”
Blumenthal joined U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and U.S. Senators Angus King (I-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Peter Welch (D-VT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-ME), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) in speaking on the senate floor on the detrimental effects this indiscriminate hold is having on national security and the cascading impact it has on U.S. forces up and down the chain of command.
With tacit support from several fellow Republicans, and only mild admonishment from Republican leadership, Senator Tuberville has waged a months-long campaign to punish dedicated military officers. Senator Tuberville’s holds, already into their fifth month, are suppressing the promotions, pay raises, and command assignments of hundreds of military men and women who earned their well-deserved, non-political promotions through hard work, sacrifice, and meritorious achievements.
The Senator from Alabama has claimed he is keeping his hold in place and undermining military readiness in an attempt to force the U.S. Secretary of Defense to overturn a lawful Pentagon policy that grants health leave and travel reimbursement for military personnel who cannot obtain reproductive care such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) or abortion care in the state where they are stationed. Senator Tuberville’s indiscriminate hold has nothing to do with the individuals whose promotions he is blocking. The policy change he is seeking would restrict the reproductive rights of women in the military and make it harder for those who must cross state lines to access legal care.
Chairman Reed and Senate Democrats repeatedly urged Senator Tuberville to put national security ahead of partisan politics and allow the 273 military nominees being held on the floor to be confirmed before the Senate adjourns for the August recess.
Dropping this reckless hold would restore the Senate’s long-standing practice of confirming military officers by unanimous consent without partisan interference, and would allow spouses and children in military families to move duty stations and enroll in their new schools before the new school year begins.
Under Senate procedure, the senator who initiates the hold also can end it at any time on their own or through conversation and negotiation with their party leader.