For the first time during the eight months Sen. Tommy Tuberville has been blocking promotions of military officers, he gave a statement that is not entirely belligerent. “I want to get over this,” he told reporters Tuesday. “We’ve got several things that we can do,” Tuberville said. “I understand the urgency. I’m not just being hard-headed about this. I understand we’ve gotten into some unique problems the last few weeks.” Presumably, Tubervillle was referring to the crisis in Israel, an indication that perhaps he does have an awareness of the world outside himself. Or not.
But Tuberville’s reasonableness didn’t extend to him relenting when faced with the rest of the Republican Senate conference asking him to give it up. They held a special meeting Tuesday afternoon, just for Tantrumming Tommy, in which he presented his “options for resolution,” each of which involves him winning by forcing an end to the Pentagon abortion policy he so stubbornly opposes.
The Alabama Republican is ostensibly protesting the federal policy that pays for service members to travel to states where abortion is legal when they need to—a policy that none of the hundreds of officers he is punishing is responsible for creating or implementing.
His one-man blockade on military promotions is now holding more than 350 senior military officers in limbo, creating a problem that recently confirmed Navy Adm. Lisa Franchetti testified will take years to correct.
“Just at the three-star level, it would take about three to four months just to move all the people around,” Franchetti told the Senate Armed Services Committee during her September confirmation hearing. “But it will take years to recover … from the promotion delays that we would see.”
Tuberville resorted to his usual belligerence ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, telling CNN’s Manu Raju that “he would continue to object if Republicans continue to pressure him,” and that he doesn’t believe that his holds are damaging the military. “You’re talking about 300 people out of 2 million,” he said disingenuously, equating the very top brass with the majority of rank-and-file enlisted members. “You can’t tell me our military is not functioning the way it should function at a high readiness, especially with what’s going on now.” That also contradicts that other statement quote above about how he understood that “unique problems” cropped up in “the last few weeks.”
The end result of Tuesday’s meeting was Tuberville not agreeing with his colleagues that this has to end.
It could be that Tuberville is both too stubborn and too stupid to dig his way out of the hole he’s in. Some part of him seems to recognize that he really is causing a problem here and needs to find a way out of it, but the part of him that’s just ornery mulishness is telling him that he has to “win.” Period.
The confrontation a handful of Republican senators forced on the floor last week—making Tuberville stay in the Senate chamber for over four hours objecting one-by-one to the promotion of 61 officers—undoubtedly made him realize he’s created a mess. But it apparently wasn’t enough to make him understand that he’s got to clean it up. His obstinance might just be enough to compel nine or 10 Republicans to finally help Democrats end the blockade.
Republican senators roast Tuberville to his face over military promotions blockade
Sen. Football Guy is outraged that three-fifths of the Senate might end his military blockades
Chuck Schumer ready to circumvent Sen. Tuberville’s military promotions holds