Updated Dec 5, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Senate confirms military promotions hours after Tuberville ends blockade

 Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) in Congress in November 2023.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) in Congress in November 2023. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Senate unanimously confirmed over 400 military promotions on Tuesday just hours after Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) partially lifted his one-man blockade that held the advancements up for months.

Why it matters: The Alabama Republican's boycott, which he initiated in protest of a Pentagon abortion policy, drew bipartisan criticism for jeopardizing military readiness.

  • Tuberville said he will continue to block the promotion of all senior military positions that are four stars or higher.

Yes, but: Maintaining the boycott for senior positions will leave several top roles in limbo, including the heads of U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Cyber Command and the Missile Defense Agency.

What they're saying: After Tuberville announced his partial lift, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he would immediately move forward with promotions that were previously held up.

  • "Senator Tuberville held out for months, hurt national security and military families, and didn't get anything he wanted," Schumer said on social media.
  • Tuberville said he has so far gained no political concessions from the blockade and had no regrets for initiating it, according to PunchBowl News.

Catch up quick: Tuberville opposes a Defense Department policy that reimburses service members for certain abortion-related expenses incurred by them or their family members.

The big picture: Because of his boycott, senior roles — including the highest-ranking positions in the Marine Corps, the Army and the Navy — within most branches of the armed forces were only filled by acting officials, according to the Department of Defense.

  • It was the first time in decades that any branch of the military was led by an acting service chief, and the first time ever that the Marines, Army and Navy simultaneously operated without leaders confirmed by the Senate.
  • His boycott was opposed by many of his Republican colleagues, the Biden administration, congressional Democrats, the Pentagon and hundreds of spouses to active-duty members of the military.
  • Tuberville maintained his stance even as U.S. soldiers in the Middle East have faced repeated attacks since the Israel-Hamas war began in October.

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Editor's note: This story was updated with additional information.

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