Admiral Lisa Franchetti testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday at her confirmation hearing to serve as Chief of Naval Operations.
Alabama Republican Tommy Tuberville has placed a hold on US military nominations and promotions in protest of the Pentagon’s policy that allows for service members and their families to travel to states where abortion is more accessible if they are based in an area where it is restricted.
So far, Senator Tuberville’s decision has led to a backlog of more than 300 nominations.
During the hearing, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, asked Mr Tuberville about the blockade and noted how it has meant that the US Naval Academy does not have a superintendent.
“Senator Tuberville likes to talk about how we're in a recruiting crisis,” she said. “But for the first time in 60 years, the Naval Academy started the school year without being confirmed superintendent and every young person at the Naval Academy, every young person who is thinking right now about applying to the academy, and every young person anywhere in the Navy, must confront head on the fact that Senator Tuberville has turned both the Navy and the Naval Academy into one more political football.”
In response, Adm. Franchetti spoke about how long it would take to fix the backlog and the effect it has had on military families.
“We ask a lot of our families to move uproot find new schools find new jobs for spouses, and I have heard a lot of concerns from our families that they are having difficulty navigating that space right now,” Adm. Franchetti said.
Ms Warren said service members have told her that even after the hold is lifted, the promotion system will be “tangled up for months and years to come” - a statement confirmed by Adm. Franchetti.
“I think just at the three-star level it would take about three to four months to move all of the people around but it will take years to recover from their promotion, if confirmed, from the promotion delays for years to come,” she said.
Ms Warren excoriated Mr Tuberville, who has shown little sign of backing down from his effort, and her Republican colleagues for not stopping him.
“Republicans’ failure to end this blockade makes it clear,” she said. “They don't care about our leaders. They don't care about families who have served their country honorably for decades. It is hard to imagine a bigger propaganda win for our enemies. We need this whole to stop and we needed to stop now.”