Tuberville blockade finally ends with confirmations of top military leaders

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday night approved the remainder of the
military nominations that Sen. Tommy Tuberville had continued to block,
even after the Alabama Republican lifted his monthslong freeze of hundreds of armed services promotions in protest of a Pentagon abortion policy.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the floor asked for unanimous
consent for the confirmations of several four-star generals and “all
nominations on the Secretary’s Desk in the Air Force, Army, Marine
Corps, Navy, and Space Force.”

Among the nominees confirmed: Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach as Air Force
Commander, Air Combat Command in Virginia; Gen. Gregory M. Guillot as
Commander, United States Northern Command in Colorado; Gen. Timothy D.
Haugh as Commander, United States Cyber Command in Maryland; and Gen.
Stephen N. Whiting as Commander, United States Space Command in

No senator objected, as has been routine prior to the Tuberville
blockade for how the upper chamber approved large groups of military

Schumer called the final confirmations “good news.”

Earlier in the day, Schumer highlighted on the floor that last week
the Senate had approved retroactive pay for the nominees who were caught
in the larger bloc of holds. The bill has not reached the House.

“Providing back pay for these military families was the very, very
least the Senate could do to right this awful wrong, and I am glad we
did it,” Schumer said.

Tuberville was one of the original co-sponsors of the bill.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Mike Rounds, a South Dakota Republican, and Joe Manchin, retiring West Virginia Democrat.

For the majority of 2023, Tuberville had been the only senator to
object to a growing list of nominations, for an unprecedented 10 months.

The former Auburn University football coach relented on Dec. 5, except for a handful of four-star general nominees in line for top leadership spots in the U.S. armed forces.

By late November the list of nominees affected by Tuberville’s
monthslong hold had grown to 451 members of the military, according to a
Department of Defense official. Majority staff for the Senate Armed
Services Committee listed 445 affected nominees at the time.

Tuberville’s protest of abortion policy

Tuberville blocked the nominations as a protest against a recent
Pentagon policy that allows armed services members time off and travel
reimbursement should they need to seek an abortion in a state where it
remains legal.

Roughly 80,000 active-duty female service members are stationed in
states where legislatures enacted full or partial bans following the
U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a RAND analysis.

The Biden administration and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin maintain the policy is legal, as did a 2022 Department of Justice opinion.