Over the course of nearly 10 months, Sen. Tommy Tuberville has maintained a blockade against military confirmations while expressing complete indifference to the consequences. The more key sources — former Defense secretaries, active duty generals and admirals, veterans’ organizations, et al. — told the Alabama Republican that he was undermining his own country’s armed forces, the more the senator pretended otherwise.
All the while, Tuberville said he would not yield. Unless the Pentagon met his demands and stopped providing travel-reimbursement benefits for U.S. troops in need of reproductive care, the GOP senator said his blockade would continue.
Just this week, however, there’s been new evidence that Tuberville is prepared to release his hostages — or at least some of them.
Punchbowl News reported that the Alabaman told his Republican colleagues on Tuesday that he was prepared to change course. “Listen, everyone,” Tuberville reportedly said. “I got y’all into this mess. I’m gonna get you out.”
A day later, a Politico report added:
Tommy Tuberville said in an interview on Wednesday he’s considering dropping his months-long holds on military promotions “soon, but not today.” ... “Trying to get some kind of resolution before we get home for Christmas, we’ve got a couple of weeks,” Tuberville said. “We’ve got to do this the right way. It’s been 10 months. I want to get this over with too, if we do it the right way.”
He did not elaborate on the precise “right way” to persuade him to release the hostages he’s held for nearly a year.
It was against this backdrop that the far-right senator spoke to CNN on Thursdsay and suggested as early as next week, he’ll allow military confirmations — except for nominees he considers “woke.”
Tuberville added that he understands “that we need to get these people promoted, and it’s been a long time for some of them.”
Of course, it’s “been a long time for some of them” because the Alabama Republican imposed an unprecedented blockade.
If, however, Tuberville fails to back down, a different approach hangs overhead. Two weeks ago, the Senate Rules Committee advanced a measure — that’s being referred to as a “patch” — which would temporarily empower members to confirm pending military nominees, crushing Tuberville’s blockade. In a letter to colleagues earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he’d bring up the resolution “in the coming weeks,” clearing the way for confirmations before the new year.
Schumer added later Thursday, “[I]t sounds like Senator Tuberville has told Republicans he is trying to find a way out of the mess that he has created, though he has not yet provided many details. We are willing to give our Republican colleagues a chance to solve this problem on their own. But let me be clear: if Republicans are not able to get Senator Tuberville to stand down quickly, we are going to hold a vote on our resolution to confirm these nominees before we leave this year. These reckless military holds must come to an end.”