Earlier this month, several Republican senators decided they had had enough of Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s unprecedented hold on the confirmation of America’s military leaders. In fact, these GOP members have publicly accused the Alabama Republican of, among other things, be dishonest, harm the army during international crises, aiding U.S. adversaries abroad, and relying on “ridiculous” and “stupid” tactics.
If the goal was to encourage the far-right senator to be more responsible, those efforts apparently failed. HuffPost reported overnight:
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) is under fire after insulting the U.S. military Monday night. “We have the weakest military we’ve had in your lifetime or in mine,” he told Newsmax’s Eric Bolling while complaining about diversity initiatives. “Infiltrating our military is all this awakening. »
There was, of course, a certain irony in the circumstances: the politician responsible for weakening the army complained on national television about the weakness of the army.
Shortly afterward, former Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Tuberville was not only wrong; he is “an idiot.”
Leaving aside questions about Alabama’s intellect, I’m struck by the broader shift in Tuberville’s tactics. Following up on our previous article, the senator’s initial position was indefensible, but it was at least coherent. Following Roe v. Wade, the Pentagon created a travel reimbursement policy for service members who needed to travel for reproductive health care.
The Alabama Republican insisted that this policy was “illegal” (it wasn’t), and further argued that the Department of Defense was paying for abortions (which was also false) . The result was a radical tactic: For the first time in American history, a senator imposed a blanket recess that effectively made it impossible for the Senate to confirm U.S. military promotions in large numbers.
The right-wing coach-turned-politician made his position clear: Military nominees — who enjoy broad bipartisan support — could move forward as soon as the Pentagon eliminates these benefits for the military and aligns its military policy with its regressive beliefs. Defense Department leaders hesitated, and the result was an unprecedented blockade that lasted nearly a year.
But Tuberville’s position has subtly evolved over time. The Alabaman used to attack a specific benefit that the Army made available to active duty troops. By late summer, however, Republicans began going after high-ranking military officers themselves.
Today, Tuberville goes even further, condemning his own country’s army for having fallen into “weakness.”
It’s tempting to explore in detail all the many important reasons why the senator is wrong, but there’s really no point: Tuberville doesn’t take his own positions seriously, so there’s little reason for anyone to someone else answers it. if he was a mature policy maker.
The big question, meanwhile, is what, if anything, senators can do to circumvent the Republican’s efforts.
Two weeks ago, the Senate Rules Committee proposed a measure – called a “patch” – that would temporarily allow members to confirm pending military appointments, breaking Tuberville’s blockade. In a letter to colleagues Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would introduce the resolution “in the coming weeks,” paving the way for confirmations before the new year.
The problem, of course, is that the measure would still require 60 votes, meaning nine Republican senators would have to side with Democrats in supporting the military. As Republican criticism of Tuberville becomes more common, even Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas recently conceded that Alabama’s tactics are harming the armed forces – it’s not yet clear whether these votes will come to fruition over the next month. Watch this place.
This article updates our related prior coverage.