The pressure from Republicans against Senator Tommy Tuberville over his hold on military promotions is growing.
Senator Ted Cruz became the latest Republican to criticise his colleague from Alabama over Mr Tuberville’s ongoing refusal to allow for voice approvals of military promotions to pass in the Senate, telling radio host Hugh Hewitt that America’s military readiness was suffering as a result of key positions going unfilled.
Mr Cruz’s break from his colleague is significant, given his typical alignment with the GOP’s right wing. It’s a sign of just how few allies remain with Mr Tuberville as his hold has stretched for months.
“[T]he men and women who are up for promotions, the one-stars, and the two-stars and three-stars and four-stars, it is not their fault. They are not the decision makers. They are not the ones who decided to do this. It is the political appointees at DOD who made this decision,” Mr Cruz told Hewitt.
“I do agree that this hold is having real and negative consequences on their lives, on their careers, and ultimately, on military readiness,” said the Texas senator.
He went on to predict that Mr Tuberville would cease his hold on military promotions “in relatively short order”, while simultaneously affirming his support for Mr Tuberville’s campaign against the Department of Defense.
Mr Tuberville and other Republicans are staunchly opposed to a policy enacted by the Biden administration allowing service members to be reimbursed for travel expenses if they need to leave their state to access abortion services. Implemented after the Dobbs decision in 2022 ended federal protections for abortion rights, Republicans argue that the policy violates the Hyde Amendment, which restricts the federal government from using funds for abortion services except in a few specific cases.
For months, the Republican from Alabama has refused to allow military promotions to be approved by voice in the Senate in retaliation. Technically, the promotions could still be approved by the full chamber in a roll call vote, but such a process is timely. Democrats who control the chamber also oppose the idea of setting a precedent by giving in to a member’s demands in such a fashion.
He has previously taken public heat over the issue from other members of the chamber including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the leader of his caucus.
The senator has vowed that he will continue to block promotions for military officers until the DoD’s policy is changed, regardless of the growing criticism. He has told reporters that there is “zero chance” he will cease his efforts. On Tuesday, however, he seemed to soften that rhetoric after a closed-door meeting with fellow Republican senators called to discuss the issue.
“I went in with one or two options. I’ve come out with five or six,” he told reporters, according to the Associated Press. “There’s going to have to be some give-and-take.”