After months in which Sen. Tommy Tuberville said he felt “zero“ pressure from his GOP colleagues to stop undermining the U.S. military, conditions on Capitol Hill took a sharp turn last week. Several Senate Republicans, clearly tired of the Alabaman’s antics, tried to overcome his unprecedented blockade on confirming U.S. military leaders.
A group of GOP members didn’t just try — 61 times — to confirm qualified military nominees, Republicans accused Tuberville of, among other things, being dishonest, damaging the military during international crises, assisting U.S. adversaries abroad, and relying on tactics that are “ridiculous” and “dumb.”
This week, some Democrats picked up where these efforts left off. AL.com reported from the far-right senator’s home state:
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., on Thursday continued to derail the advancement of military promotions he has held up since mid-February as Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., attempted to move the more than 300 nominations on the Senate floor. ... Kaine noted that Thursday is “Military Day” in Alabama, which Gov. Kay Ivey set in a proclamation last week.
The Virginia Democrat also noted, incidentally, that in addition to Alabama’s Military Day, the Marine Corps’ birthday is November 10 (today), and a day later the nation will honor Veterans Day. Kaine apparently hoped that the holidays might help sway Tuberville, if for no other reason than by appealing to his sense of patriotism.
It didn’t work. The Alabama Republican rejected 364 military nominees.
Seemingly indifferent to irony, Tuberville tried to justify his ongoing, months-long blockade by declaring on the Senate floor that he couldn’t sit idly by while the “Biden administration injects politics into our military.”
No, really, that’s what he said.
The developments came on the heels of Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, telling Punchbowl News, “The idea that somehow this isn’t impacting readiness and morale in one of the most dangerous times we’ve faced in decades — nobody’s buying that.”
Even Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox News that she’s not on board with Tuberville’s radical tactics.
The overarching question, however, is what senators are prepared to do to protect the military’s interests. The Alabaman is well aware of the ongoing efforts to go around him, and he told Politico last week, “They’d rather blow up the Senate than go with the Constitution.”
As Tuberville really ought to know, the Constitution does not reference Senate procedural holds. It also does not require the Pentagon to deny travel reimbursement benefits to U.S. troops.
Predicting the near future is nearly impossible, but for what it’s worth, the Alabama Republican said earlier this week that he would work with other senators on possible options, and “hopefully we can start moving forward.” As an Associated Press report noted, “That was a contrast to last week, when he said there was ‘zero chance’ he would lift the holds, absent a change in policy.”
Tuberville also told reporters, “I understand the urgency. I’m not just being hard-headed about this.”
Hard-headed? Tuberville? Perish the thought.