After months of delays due to an ongoing hold on military nominations, the Senate on Wednesday confirmed Air Force Gen. C.Q. Brown to serve as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) filed cloture on Wednesday for three senior military officials’ nominations, paving the way for voice votes on Brown, Gen. Eric Smith to serve as the next commandant of the Marine Corps and Gen. Randy George to serve as the chief of staff of the Army.
Smith declined to comment on Wednesday when asked by USNI News about the Senate activity.
The three senior military officials’ confirmations have been on hold by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.). In February, Tuberville put a hold on unanimous consent for military confirmations over a Defense Department policy that allows service members to get reimbursed for travel out of state for abortion care and other services like in vitro fertilization. Tuberville argues the policy is a violation of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal dollars from going toward abortion services.
More than 300 flag and general officer military nominations across the services have been stalled for months due to Tuberville’s unanimous consent hold. Prior to Wednesday’s confirmation vote, Schumer had refused for months to bring the individual nominees up for a voice vote in the Senate.
Last week, during her confirmation hearing to serve as the next chief of naval operations, Adm. Lisa Franchetti said it could take years for the Navy to recover from the effects of the stalled promotions.
“I think just at the three-star level, it would take about three to four months to move all of the people around, but it will take years to recover from the promotion – if confirmed – for the promotion delays that we would see forward,” she told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Tuberville’s hold has prevented the Senate from approving the slew of nominations using unanimous consent, which allows the upper chamber to quickly move through large numbers of nominees.
It would take the Senate about 89 days to approve 273 nominations, provided lawmakers work an eight-hour work day and do not conduct other business, according to an Aug. 23 memo from the Congressional Research Service.
During an interview with USNI News on Wednesday at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro called on Tuberville to lift the holds and confirm the remaining nominees awaiting confirmation. Del Toro pointed to former War College president Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, who was nominated to be the U.S. military representative to the NATO Military Committee, as an example of how the holds have hurt the Department of Defense. Chatfield is waiting in Newport until confirmation.
“She is the best that we have to represent us right now in NATO. And that’s where she should be. Instead, we actually have an extremely hard-working one-star general who’s only been on one star for three months, who’s working day and night but doesn’t have the exquisite experience that she has to represent us there,” Del Toro told USNI News.
Tuberville, who placed the hold in February, said he was fine with the outcome of the cloture votes.
“As long as we go through cloture, as long as we do them individually, not as a group, I’m good with it,” Tuberville said, according to Politico.
“I asked them to do this and they’re doing it. That’s a win.”