Senate confirms Brown amid Tuberville's ongoing blockade

By Tony Bertuca / September 20, 2023 at 8:22 PM

The Senate has voted 83-11 to confirm Air Force Gen. Charles "C.Q." Brown to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after months of being stalled by Sen. Tommy Tuberville's (R-AL) ongoing hold on military nominations.

In advance of the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he decided to schedule individual votes for Brown and two other senior defense nominees, even though the chamber often advances such picks through a speedier, bipartisan process that Tuberville is blocking over his opposition to the Pentagon’s leave and travel policies for servicemembers seeking abortions. His hold covers more than 300 military nominations.

The other two nominees, who are scheduled to receive confirmation votes tomorrow, are Gen. Randy George to become Army chief of staff and Gen. Eric Smith to become Marine Corps commandant.

“Due to the extraordinary circumstances of Sen. Tuberville’s reckless decisions, Democrats will take action,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “Democrats have said all along that these promotions should move forward together, as these nominations have for decades in the past. They should have happened a long time ago; they should have happened the way these promotions have been done in the Senate until Sen. Tuberville arrived.”

Schumer had previously said he did not want the Senate to confirm the nominees individually as it could set a precedent in the future that could further slow the nomination process.

Meanwhile, a Congressional Research Service report found that it would take the Senate more than 30 days to confirm the nominees impacted by Tuberville’s hold if lawmakers worked 24 hours per day without stopping. It would take 89 days if the Senate worked eight hours a day on the nominations, CRS said.

Tuberville, using a privilege granted to senators, is holding up the speedy consideration of the nominations over his opposition to a DOD policy that provides leave and travel assistance for servicemembers seeking abortions if they are stationed somewhere the procedure is outlawed or cannot be obtained. The Biden administration established the policy following the June 2022 Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Democrats and Republicans alike have criticized Tuberville’s blanket hold, while defense officials have said for months it threatens national security.

Brown’s confirmation as chairman comes as Gen. Mark Milley prepares to retire from the post at the end of this month.

Following the news that Schumer would allow the three nominees to be considered individually, Tuberville took to X, formerly Twitter, to vow that he would never give up his holds unless DOD changed its abortion policy.

“One of us was bluffing. It wasn't me,” Tuberville wrote. “Democrats are taking the same action they could've taken months ago. As long as the Pentagon keeps the unlawful elective abortion policy in place, my holds will remain.”