WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed more than 400 military nominees Tuesday afternoon, with Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., ending a month-long campaign and announcing that he would drop most of his nominations.
Tuberville told reporters earlier Tuesday that he had lifted his hold on 425 promotions of three stars and below, among all military promotions.
“I’m releasing them all. I’m still holding 11 four-star generals. Everyone else is completely released from me,” Tuberville told reporters. “But other than that, it’s over.”
Hours later, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DNY, led those 425 nominees to the Senate floor to unanimously confirm them, saying military members and their families can “breathe a sigh of relief.”
He then took aim at Tuberville for his 10-month hold, saying he posed a risk to national security through the “senseless and deeply damaging raid” on military families. Schumer warned other senators against pursuing a similar tactic in the future.
“Let this incident be a warning,” Schumer said, “that no one — no one — should try this again in the Senate. The veteran senator from Alabama has nothing to show for his 10-month delay.
Alabama Republicans have withheld military referrals in protest of a Defense Department policy that allows service members to be reimbursed for travel expenses related to abortions. The policy is still in place.
Schumer said the Senate will “work to confirm the remaining nominees” to block Tuberville “soon.” It’s unclear whether the Senate will act on them one at a time in the coming weeks or if Democrats will move to do them as a group.
Tuberville signaled last week that he might give up some of his hold on military promotions “very soon” as pressure from members of both parties mounted. He did not specify at the time how many promotions he would offer, but said he wanted to get as many as possible “in the next week” and would not make decisions based on “levels” of rankings.
“I know these people who, you know, need a promotion,” he said last week.
Earlier on Tuesday, Tuberville announced a press conference regarding Holtz at 1:40pm ET, then canceled it without reason.
Some of the military recommendations that Tuberville has blocked for months include top officials commanding U.S. forces in the Middle East. Since Hamas launched an attack on Israel on October 7, the Pentagon has moved aircraft and military carriers to the region to aid and support Israel.
Tuberville drew criticism from members of his own party. A group of Republican senators tried several times on the Senate floor to confirm military nominees, but each time, Tuberville blocked them. Schumer thanked the group in his remarks Tuesday afternoon.
GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley also condemned the senator’s effort, saying in August that his blockade would harm service members and military readiness.
Top military leaders, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, have been warning for months about the consequences of Tuberville’s hold, including the potential loss of talent.
Last week, Schumer said he would bring a Democratic resolution to the floor to bypass Tuberville’s gripes, but it’s unclear if he has the votes to pass it.
As frustration with Tuberville builds among his own party, Senate Republicans last week began expressing hope that Tuberville would come up with a resolution to his blockade before members leave for the new year.
“I had a lot of conversations over the weekend on this subject, and I think I’m optimistic,” Sen. John Thune, RS.D., told reporters Tuesday morning. “Today, we’re optimistic. ‘Going – keep your fingers crossed, we’ll see, hopefully we’ll have a breakthrough but time will tell.'”
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