Tensions are flaring within the GOP ranks in the Senate as members of the armed forces attack Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) for his control over military promotions.
The Republican field, led by Sen. Dan Sullivan (Alas.), pushed intra-party disagreement over how to resolve Tuberville’s holds into the public sphere last week with a ground effort to move forward on 61 promotions. Tuberville blocked every one of them.
Where to go from here has left Republicans baffled.
Sullivan promised Thursday to return to the field to try to promote certain candidates. Others left open the possibility of supporting a continuing resolution drafted by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) that would allow lawmakers to move most military candidates in a block. until the end of the year.
Currently, Tuberville is organizing more than 370 promotions to protest the Pentagon’s abortion policies. The suspensions are in their eighth month and, coupled with emerging crises in Israel and other parts of the world, Senate Republicans are growing increasingly frustrated.
Wednesday’s attempts to move the nominees — which Democrats have tried repeatedly, but Republicans didn’t until last week — are a clear example.
“This has come to a head,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) told The Hill. “We have done our best to try to resolve these issues, but with everything going on in the world, it is time to address these concerns.”
That’s exactly what Senate Republicans are expected to do next week as they plan a conference meeting to find a path forward.
Lawmakers discussed the possibility at lunch Thursday. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said Senate Republicans “need to have a full conference” that includes all parties, including Tuberville — who was not present for lunch Thursday.
Sullivan, a 30-year member of the Marine Corps, told reporters that Wednesday night’s back-and-forth was a “show of frustration,” adding that he remained hopeful of reaching an agreement with Tuberville and had confidence to the Alabama Republican for remaining a willing negotiator on this issue. issue.
“Sometimes you’re having a rough night and it can redirect your thinking,” Sullivan said. “I think there are absolutely opportunities for good faith negotiations.”
The Alaska Republican added that he also plans to present another petition to force more military votes.
The House on Thursday confirmed Adm. Lisa Franchetti and Gen. David Allvin as chief of naval operations and Air Force chief of staff, respectively.
The chamber also confirmed that Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney was the deputy commandant of the Marine Corps — a position that prompted rapid action after Marine Commandant Gen. Eric Smith was hospitalized with an undisclosed illness.
Sullivan also left the door open to working with Democrats on the settlement resolution, but added that finding a solution on the Republican Party’s side was his “preference.”
The resolution, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says he wants to bring to the floor, would need 60 votes to pass.
By moving most nominations in one block, the Senate could avoid using valuable time on more than 300 nominations and Democrats also hope to avoid setting a precedent for moving nominees in regular order.
But Republicans have been reluctant to join the initiative, in part because they did not want to set a precedent by temporarily changing the rules or affect the ability of minority party senators to use their objection power in the future. .
However, a similar situation That happened a decade ago, easing concerns among some in the Republican Party at a time when some say desperate times call for action.
“It depends on the nature of this proposal,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a 23-year veteran of the Army Reserve and Army National Guard who joined Sullivan on the ground for the duration of the Wednesday evening debates. “We should think about it. …But we don’t want to go there. We will try all possible avenues.
“We need these candidates in place,” she continued. “This world is far too dangerous – far too dangerous – to keep them away. »
Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), a retired Marine captain who was also part of the group Wednesday, added that he had not “ruled out the possibility” but first wanted to see whether Tuberville would “offer an accommodation.”
Wednesday night’s floor battle also featured continued barbs towards Tuberville from Sullivan and Ernst over the process of confirming individuals, with both men repeatedly saying they were doing what the senator of Alabama wanted: an individual examination of candidates.
Tuberville told reporters Thursday that they were wrong, saying his appeal was about the entire process for everyone, including the closing and final passage count. He also admitted that of the more than 300 people awaiting promotion that his office has reviewed, he only has problems with about 10 to 15 percent of them.
But for now, Republican lawmakers are well aware of the tensions simmering throughout the conference.
“I think it shows you how raw the feelings are,” Capito said.
“I think it’s frustrating for all of us that we can’t find a way to satisfy Senator Tuberville. At the same time, there seems to be no movement there,” Capito continued. “It’s the frustration.”
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