WASHINGTON, DC – Last night and into the early hours of this morning, a leading group of U.S. Senators took to the Senate floor to urge an end to the partisan blockade of merit-based promotions by U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), who continues to indefinitely stall the nominations of hundreds of senior U.S. military officers.


U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Democratic colleagues spoke on the floor for more than five hours, outlining the detrimental effects this indiscriminate hold is having on national security and the cascading impact it has on U.S. forces up and down the chain of command.


During the floor action, which started at 7:00 pm and went well past midnight, Reed and fellow Senate Democrats spoke on the floor – including Senators Angus King (I-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Peter Welch (D-VT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-ME), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) – and highlighted the qualifications of each of the 273 individual military nominees who are currently being held on the floor, one officer at a time.


“The Senator from Alabama has chosen a profoundly insulting and damaging path to make his unhappiness known,” Reed said. “The Senate has always treated military nominations with respect and bipartisan support as part of a routine promotion process.  Now, they have been turned into political pawns by the Senator from Alabama.  The Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Senate Armed Services Committee, and every uniformed, apolitical member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have upheld the legality and appropriateness of the policy he objects to.  Presented with these facts, only willful ignorance or stubborn hubris could lead one to continue down this path.”


With tacit support from several fellow Republicans, and only mild admonishment from Republican leadership, Senator Tuberville has waged a months-long campaign to punish dedicated military officers.  Senator Tuberville’s holds, already into their fifth month, are suppressing the promotions, pay raises, and command assignments of hundreds of military men and women who earned their well-deserved, non-political promotions through hard work, sacrifice, and meritorious achievements.


The Senator from Alabama has claimed he is keeping his hold in place and undermining military readiness in an attempt to force the U.S. Secretary of Defense to overturn a lawful Pentagon policy that grants health leave and travel reimbursement for military personnel who cannot obtain reproductive care such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) or abortion care in the state where they are stationed.  Senator Tuberville’s indiscriminate hold has nothing to do with the individuals whose promotions he is blocking.  The policy change he is seeking would restrict the reproductive rights of women in the military and make it harder for those who must cross state lines to access legal care.


Chairman Reed and Senate Democrats repeatedly urged Senator Tuberville to put national security ahead of partisan politics and allow the 273 military nominees being held on the floor to be confirmed before the Senate adjourns for the August recess. 


Reed added, “Right now, our nation faces an unparalleled threat from China and a violent, unstable Russia threatening all of our NATO allies.  To not have our military leaders ready to command at a moment’s notice is to flirt with disaster.  The Senator from Alabama has achieved something that Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin could have only dreamed of.  Our military and our nation are weakened by his actions.”


Dropping this reckless hold would restore the Senate’s long-standing practice of confirming military officers by unanimous consent without partisan interference, and would allow spouses and children in military families to move duty stations and enroll in their new schools before the new school year begins.


Under Senate procedure, the senator who initiates the hold also can end it at any time on their own or through conversation and negotiation with their party leader.


Earlier in the day, Senator Reed and Senator Shaheen also joined Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at a U.S. Capitol press conference to discuss the harmful impacts of the blanket holds on U.S. military readiness and national security.