Pentagon official: Tuberville's military holds 'damaging'

(NewsNation) — Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s hold on more than 300 military promotions is nearing the six-month mark, a blockade the Pentagon says is “damaging” to national security.

The hold stems from a disagreement over the Pentagon’s abortion policy that provides women time off and covers travel expenses for the medical procedure.

Sabrina Singh, deputy press secretary at the Pentagon, said the holdups are forcing military leadership personnel to perform two jobs at once.

“The position of the commandant of the Marine Corps is a pretty big job — so is the second-in-command at the Marine Corps,” Singh said Thursday on “The Hill on NewsNation.” “They need two separate people in those roles.”

Tuberville is facing pressure from top Pentagon leaders to end his blockade.

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and Army Secretary Christine Wormuth penned an op-ed in The Washington Post Monday panning the Alabama Republican for eroding the “foundation” of the military, which already has Senate-confirmed vacancies atop the Army, Navy and the Marine Corps — the first time three services have been with acting heads.

Some Senate Republicans argued this week that Democrats should consider a one-off vote later this month on Charles Q. Brown Jr.’s nomination to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs when current chairman Mark Milley’s term ends Oct. 1.

Singh believes the Senate would grind to a halt if it tried the tactic for each of the more than 300 nominees.

“Each name could be up to 30 hours (of debate). … Do you want the Senate to go into a complete shutdown?” Singh said. “I don’t think anyone wants that.”

Democrats said as much this week and have argued for months that Tuberville’s holds are a puzzle Senate Republicans have to solve. 

“I can understand why you could pick one or two here or there, but the bottom line is that this is an outrage what he is doing. It affects the entire military. If we are asked to go through these nominees individually for promotions, we’ll run out the calendar this year,” Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told reporters this week. “The head of each of the services is waiting for this action by the Senate too, so I can understand. You can make a case for each of them.” 

Tuberville hasn’t signaled any sort of self-imposed deadline and doesn’t appear to be relenting any time soon.

“What we will still continue to do here at the Pentagon is to highlight how damaging this is for our national security, for our readiness, for our military families,” Singh said. “That’s something that a senator who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee should really understand.”

The Hill contributed to this report.


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