A handful of Republicans kept the Senate in session into the early hours of Thursday morning, making sure Sen. Tommy Tuberville started his long Thanksgiving break on a sour note. The Alabama Republican is under increasing pressure from all sides to end his tantrum and lift his blanket hold on more than 400 officer promotions.
The same group of senators, all veterans, who confronted Tuberville last month faced Tuberville down again Wednesday night and into Thursday morning. “I made a commitment to the men and women in uniform that I would continue to try to move them. I keep my commitments,” Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan told Politico.
Since February, Tuberville has been protesting the Pentagon’s policy of providing paid leave for service members who are forced to travel out of state to obtain an abortion. None of the officers he is preventing from advancing had anything to do with formulating or implementing that policy, which apparently makes no difference to Tuberville. "Why punish people who have seriously sacrificed for America—more than probably anyone else here on the floor certainly—over a policy they had nothing to do with?" Sullivan asked on the floor.
This happened against the backdrop of the resolution passed by the Senate Rules Committee this week to create a temporary bypass of Tuberville for the remainder of this congressional term. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told the Senate—and Tuberville—that the resolution will come to the floor if Republicans fail in their efforts to stop the blockade. The warning came with an unusually sharp and personal rebuke from Schumer.
“[T]here's been a lot of negativity and dysfunction in the Senate these days, but Sen. Tuberville has single-handedly brought the Senate to a new low,” Schumer said. “He should be ashamed of himself. Patience is wearing thinner and thinner with Sen. Tuberville, on both sides of the aisle.”
“We still hold out some small hope that in the next little, short while, our Republican colleagues can persuade Tuberville to back off, but if it does not happen, we intend to move this resolution to the floor of the Senate,” Schumer concluded.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina added some weight—and a deadline—to that threat. "I promise you this—this will be the last holiday this happens. If it takes me to vote to break loose these folks, I will," Graham said. That’s the same Lindsey Graham who once threatened to “use all the tools in the toolbox to stop” Democrats from changing rules to stop GOP obstruction.
That’s just how frustrated and angry Tuberville’s colleagues are—other than Utah’s Mike Lee, that is. He spent about as much time as he could on the floor pontificating with “lengthy filibusters” in support of Tuberville’s right to shut the Senate down with his obnoxious crusade.
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We talk about North Carolina non-stop on "The Downballot," so it's only natural that our guest on this week's episode is Anderson Clayton, the new chair of the state Democratic Party. Clayton made headlines when she became the youngest state party chair anywhere in the country at the age of 25, and the story of how she got there is an inspiring one. But what she's doing—and plans to do—is even more compelling. Her focus is on rebuilding the party infrastructure from the county level up, with the aim of reconnecting with rural Black voters who've too often been sidelined and making young voters feel like they have a political home. Plus: her long-term plan to win back the state Supreme Court.