Senate Majority Leader , D-N.Y., is pressing forward with three top military nominations amid Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s monthslong blockade of hundreds of nominees after the Marine Corps’ commandant, Gen. Eric Smith, was hospitalized over the weekend due to a medical emergency.
Schumer moved Tuesday to advance to a vote on President Joe Biden’s nominees for the Marine Corps’ second-in-command, Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, as well as for the chief of naval operations and the Air Force chief of staff.
In remarks on the Senate floor, Schumer slammed Tuberville, R-Ala., for his blanket hold on the nominations.
“Lt. Gen. Mahoney’s confirmation is urgent in light of the frightening news that Gen. Eric Smith, confirmed last month to lead the U.S. Marine Corps, was hospitalized Sunday after a serious medical emergency,” he said, adding that the incident “shows why it’s supremely risky to play politics with military appointments, as Sen. Tuberville is doing.”
“Emergencies happen, and when they do, the chain of command must be able to respond,” Schumer said.
Tuberville, who is facing backlash for stalling at least 300 high-level nominees, has said his blockade is aimed at reversing the Defense Department’s policy allowing time off and travel reimbursement for service members and family members who go to another state for an abortion.
On Tuesday, Tuberville tried to force a vote on Mahoney, saying Smith’s unexpected hospitalization prompted him to reconsider the nomination. He made clear that he won’t lift his hold on hundreds of other senior military promotions until the Pentagon reverses its abortion policy.
“Just on that one,” Tuberville told reporters, referring to Mahoney’s nomination.
“If they move the policy back, then we’ll drop ’em all,” he said.
Reached for comment, Steven Stafford, Tuberville’s communications director, said in a statement that the senator “forced this move by Senator Schumer. Again.”
“This is an admission by Chuck Schumer that the Senate is capable of voting on military nominations after all,” he said.
“This is the second time Coach has forced Schumer to vote, and it just shows that Coach and 16 other Republicans can do this to Senator Schumer as many times as they want,” he added, referring to Tuberville’s previous job as a college football coach. “And maybe they will.”
It’s likely that Mahoney’s nomination, which was submitted in July, would have been confirmed by now if Tuberville’s hold wasn’t in place.
As Tuberville tried to force a floor vote on Mahoney’s nomination earlier Tuesday, Schumer told Democrats during a closed-door lunch that he would bring up the nomination along with two others this week, a Senate source said.
The Middle East “crisis that we have makes it even more apparent that Republicans themselves should get Tuberville to back off what he is doing now more than ever,” Schumer told reporters after the lunch. “What happened with the Marine Corps commandant shows just the reason we should — we don’t know who the next person is who might get ill or whatever.”
Evan Massoud is a political analyst with a knack for dissecting policy and governance. He provides readers with informed perspectives on political developments at home and abroad. Evan’s dedication to civic engagement extends to volunteering in local politics.