The Senate voted 86-0 today to confirm Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney as Marine Corps assistant commandant days after Commandant Gen. Eric Smith was hospitalized following an undisclosed medical emergency, leaving the service with no Senate-confirmed No. 2 officer.
Although Mahoney was nominated in July, the post of assistant commandant has been vacant due to a blanket hold on military nominations and promotions by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who is blocking the Senate’s normal confirmation process in opposition to the Pentagon’s leave and travel policies for servicemembers seeking abortion services. Tuberville voted in favor of Mahoney’s nomination today.
With no Senate-confirmed assistant commandant, Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, deputy commandant for combat development and integration and commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, has been performing the duties of commandant while Smith recovers. The job falls to Heckl because he is the most senior officer at Marine Corps Headquarters, according to a service press release.
According to a Wednesday Marine Corps release, Smith is in stable condition and is recovering in a Washington, DC hospital. While the service has not disclosed the nature of the medical emergency, other media outlets have reported it was a heart attack.
Earlier today, senators confirmed Adm. Lisa Franchetti as the new chief of naval operations and Gen. David Allvin as the next Air Force chief of staff. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed cloture on the three nominations on Tuesday, bringing them to the Senate floor for individual votes.