Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville avoided breaking with his Republican colleagues on his military blockade crusade during a Senate Rules Committee vote on Tuesday – but that may not last much longer as tensions are mounting.
The Democratic-led committee voted in favour of approving a resolution, 9-7, that would allow the Senate to confirm batches of military nominees for the remainder of the congressional term.
Mr Tuberville has single-handedly held up approximately 350 military nominations and promotions this year as part of his effort to protest a Pentagon policy that reimburses service members’ travel expenses for abortion care. The policy was enacted after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade last year.
All Republicans on the committee, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, voted along party lines against the resolution.
But Mr McConnell hinted at the possibility of voting to circumvent Mr Tuberville’s monthslong military blockade saying he would only vote to oppose the resolution “at this time.”
“Ultimately, the best path forward for everyone involved is one that allows us to clear the nominations backlog and preserve our substantive nomination to the Biden administration’s atrocious policy,” Mr McConnell said during the meeting.
“Productive conversations on that front are ongoing and I’m of the mind that we ought to allow them to continue,” he added.
By invoking his voting power to delay nominations or promotions, Mr Tuberville has caused a headache in the Senate. In order to bypass him, Democrats would have to override his vote with their majority of every individual nomination or promotion.
As a result, the US is left without military leadership which several senior military officials and the White House have flagged as potential security issues.
Mr Tuberville’s actions are unpopular, even among Republicans.
Mr McConnell said Mr Tuberville’s response is “not the way to reach the desired outcome” and that it’s created “a nearly unprecedented situation for the Senate to address.”
Now, Senate Democrats have made their first motion in an attempt to circumvent Mr Tuberville’s objections through the committee’s approved resolution. It could head to a floor vote next if Mr Tuberville does not agree to relinquish his hold.