On Sunday evening, U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith suffered an unspecified medical emergency. He's been in the hospital ever since. There's no news yet on when he may be able to return to duty.
Normally the armed services are well prepared for emergencies like this, that being their prime area of expertise. The commandant's duties would be filled by his second in command. But in this case, there's a problem:
Because of the ongoing hold on military promotions from Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville, there is no confirmed assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.
Instead, Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, the deputy commandant for combat development and integration, is currently serving as the acting commandant of the Marine Corps as a 3-star general.
On the same day that Smith was hospitalized, Tuberville was again belittling the idea that his holds were affecting military readiness while complaining that a possible new bipartisan plan to lift his blanket holds on all top-level military promotions by changing the Senate rule that he abused to do it would amount to "burn[ing] the Senate down."
Tuberville has been holding up Senate-confirmable promotions and appointments until each of the armed services agrees to reverse recent rule changes that allow service members additional leave and travel stipends to receive abortion-related care if they have been stationed in a Republican-governed backwoods in which politicians have made such care illegal.
Despite repeated military warnings that his tantrum is causing real issues inside military chains of command and growing frustration among his fellow Republican senators, Tuberville has vowed to keep blocking Senate-approvable promotions indefinitely.
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