Alabama Sen. Tuberville to end blockade of most military nominees, clearing way for hundreds to be approved

· Dec. 5, 2023, 12:43 pm
alabama-senator-Tommy-tuberville-filealabama-senator-Tommy-tuberville-fileAP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
FILE - Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, talks to reporters as he and other senators arrive at the chamber for votes, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023.

By Kevin Freking/AP

Sen. Tommy Tuberville announced on Tuesday that he's ending his blockade of hundreds of military promotions, following heavy criticism from many of his colleagues in the Senate and clearing the way for hundreds to be approved.

Tuberville’s blockade of military promotions was over a dispute about a Pentagon abortion policy. The Alabama Republican said Tuesday he’s “not going to hold the promotions of these people any longer.”

Almost 400 military nominations have been in limbo due to Tuberville’s blanket hold on confirmations and promotions for senior military officers. It’s a stance that has left key national security positions unfilled and military families with an uncertain path forward.

Tuberville was blocking the nominations in opposition to new Pentagon rules that allow reimbursement for travel when a service member has to go out of state to get an abortion or other reproductive care. President Joe Biden’s administration instituted the new rules after the Supreme Court overturned the nationwide right to an abortion, and some states have limited or banned the procedure.

Critics said that Tuberville's ire was misplaced and that he was blocking the promotions of people who had nothing to do with the policy he opposed.

“Why are we punishing American heroes who have nothing to with the dispute?" said Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska. "Remember we are against the Biden abortion travel policy, but why are we punishing people who have nothing to do with the dispute and if they get confirmed can’t fix it? No one has had an answer for that question because there is no answer.”

Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor and Tara Copp contributed to this report.

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