Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer gave a shoutout to GOP Sens. Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Joni Ernst of Iowa for helping him kneecap Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s protest of the Pentagon’s abortion activism during a Senate floor speech on Tuesday.
“Mr. President, today hundreds — hundreds — of military families across the country can breathe a sigh of relief. The Senate has now unanimously confirmed hundreds of military nominations that were held up for 10 months by a single person, the senator from Alabama,” Schumer said. “While today’s confirmations are good news, these holds should never have happened in the first place.”
The Senate’s en masse confirmation of Biden’s military nominations came hours after Tuberville — who had been slow-walking these promotions for months to protest the Pentagon’s unlawful use of taxpayer money to subsidize Defense Department employees’ travel expenses to get abortions — announced he would be dropping his hold on all promotions except for those of four-star nominees. The Alabama senator was left with no good options after nearly a dozen of his GOP colleagues threatened to side with Schumer and Democrats in changing the Senate rules to skirt his protest.
A senior Hill staffer previously told The Federalist, “This is on everyone who sold him out.”
In his Tuesday speech, Schumer gave special thanks to Sullivan and Ernst, both of whom went to the Senate floor in recent weeks to attack Tuberville and have pressured the Alabama senator to abandon his protest.
“I really want to thank Sens. Ernst and Sullivan for their courage in helping break the logjam after so, so many months,” Schumer said. “For all those who played a part in bringing this impasse to an end, thank you.”
As egregious as their behavior is, it wasn’t just Sullivan and Ernst who attacked Tuberville and sided with Democrats to ensure the Pentagon’s illegal policy could continue unchallenged. Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Todd Young of Indiana, and Mitt Romney of Utah also took to the Senate floor to criticize their GOP colleague’s stand for the unborn. In addition to these Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were among those threatening to join Democrats’ bid to sidestep Tuberville’s protest.
It’s worth mentioning that the resolution seeking to alter the Senate rules proposed by Democrats required 60 votes to pass. Had Senate Republicans remained unified in opposing it, Tuberville’s holds and challenge to the Pentagon’s unlawful policy would have continued.
With Tuberville’s protest mostly finished, the only tool left to dismantle the Defense Department’s guidance is through the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2024. Despite facing pressure from conservative organizations to ensure a provision nuking the policy is included in the final version of the bill., House Speaker Mike Johnson has declined to say whether he intends to do so.