Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., announced on Tuesday he is finally backing down from his hold on hundreds of military promotions to protest the Pentagon’s abortion policy.
Tuberville told reporters he would release all holds except for four-star generals after a nine-month long protest that angered several of his colleagues, including Republicans who feared the stalled promotions would impact military readiness.
The former college football coach claimed he could not continue his hold after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., “changed the rules” in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual must-pass defense spending bill.
“I’d love to have had five downs in football instead of four, but you can’t do it. It’s got to be fair for everybody,” Tuberville said. “So that being said, I’m not going to hold the promotions of these people any longer. We just released them.”
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Tuberville began blocking President Biden’s military nominations in February over what he said was the Pentagon’s “illegal” policy of providing travel expense reimbursement to service members who seek an abortion. The Biden administration adopted the policy last year in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and held the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.
Almost 400 military nominations have since been in limbo due to Tuberville’s blanket hold on confirmations and promotions for senior military officers. It’s a Tuberville’s opponents say has left key national security positions unfilled and military families with an uncertain path forward.
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In October, a bipartisan group of lawmakers planned to maneuver around Tuberville’s hold by introducing a rules change in the Senate Rules Committee that would allow them to approve a batch of nominees through 2024.
Majority Leader Schumer last week said he would bring a resolution to the Senate floor that would adopt the rules change and circumvent Tuberville.
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After Tuberville’s announcement, Schumer spoke at a press conference and said that lawmakers would move the delayed military promotions as soon as Tuesday afternoon.
“I want to say, in regarding Senator Tuberville, in regards to Tuberville finally lifting his unnecessary and harmful holds on our nation’s military officials, I’m happy that we can finally move forward and give these men and women the promotions they deserve. I plan to move these promotions as soon as possible, possibly later this afternoon,” Schumer said.
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He added, “I hope no one does this again, and I hope they learn the lesson of Senator Tuberville. And that is: He held out for many, many months, hurt our national security, caused discombobulation to so many military families who have been so dedicated to our country and didn’t get anything he wanted. It’s a risky strategy that will not succeed. I hope it doesn’t happen again.”
Fox News Digital’s Jamie Joseph and the Associated Press contributed to this report.