Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke at the Senate Rules Committee’s markup on a resolution to more quickly confirm military nominations being blocked by Senator Tuberville’s (R-Al) reckless blanket hold. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:
I wish we did not have to be here this afternoon. And yet, we are here today nonetheless.
Because for the last nine months, one member of the Senate – one member, the Senior Senator from Alabama – has defied longstanding Senate custom and prevented the swift, bipartisan confirmation of hundreds of generals and flag officers.
Senator Fischer said this resolution is an anomaly, but what Senator Tuberville has done is truly an anomaly that does much harm and requires a response. Every single one of us here, not just Senator Tuberville, has issues we feel totally passionate about and feel are morally right. If everyone of us had the temerity and recklessness to do what Senator Tuberville has done, we would have no military. All of our national security would vanish.
So, we are here today to consider a resolution, brought by Senator Reed, that would allow for the swift confirmation of these military nominees that Senator Tuberville has placed on hold.
I thank the committee for their work on this resolution – especially Chair Klobuchar, Senator Reed as well – and I will vote in favor of it today. If it is reported out of committee – and if my Republican colleagues can’t convince Senator Tuberville to relent – I will bring it to the floor shortly for a vote.
We need to get these military nominees confirmed ASAP, for the sake of our national security. Military nominees for decades have been the most bipartisan parts of the Senate. The idea of blocking the confirmation of military officers in order to make a political statement, no matter how deeply felt, has long been considered – long been considered – unthinkable.
There has been a lot of negativity and dysfunction in the Senate these days, but Senator Tuberville has singlehandedly brought the Senate to a new low.
For months, members on both sides have reached out to Senator Tuberville to try and find a compromise. Senior defense officials have tried to get our colleague to stand down. Seven – seven – former secretaries of defense, who served presidents from both Democratic and Republican parties, have spoken out against these holds.
And at each overture, what is Senator Tuberville’s response? He digs in. He has claimed that he simply wanted to vote on these nominees – but he’s even objected to up-or-down votes on the Senate floor. Our colleague from Alabama has made clear he will not budge.
Every day the Senator from Alabama continues his blockade of military promotions, America’s national security pays a heavy price – a heavy price – at a time when we are all talking about our national security.
Military families – spouses who need to start new jobs, children who need to start new schools, who come from families whose spouse has been in the military for decades and have already sacrificed a lot, are being asked to make an unusual sacrifice, though they have done nothing wrong.
And our military readiness pays the price. As has been mentioned, the hold includes the Commander of the Navy’s 5th Fleet, and the Deputy Commander of the U.S. Central Command – both vital, vital, for our operations in the Middle East.
And sadly, it is likely the worst is yet to come. The worst is yet to come if Senator Tuberville is allowed to continue this reckless policy, because up to three quarters of the generals and admirals in the Defense Department will be affected by Senator Tuberville’s actions. Let me say that again: three quarters of the generals and admirals in DOD will be affected by Senator Tuberville's actions, three quarters.
Patience is wearing thin on both sides of the aisle. Democrats and Republicans alike want these holds to end.
So today, I commend members of the Rules Committee for advancing this resolution. Bipartisanship has long been a hallmark of military confirmations. It’s essential that it stays that way, because the last thing we want is the permanent politicizing of our generals, our flag officers, of the people whose sworn duty it is to keep our nation safe.
So, for the sake of our national security, for the sake of our military readiness, for the sake of our military families who have already sacrificed so much, I urge the Rules Committee to act. For the sake of preserving the Senate’s long tradition, respected by thousands, I’d say, Senators on both sides of the aisle, I urge the Rules Committee to act.
For the sake of our military families, for the spouses and kids, I urge the committee to act.
With your help, my colleagues, right now we can begin to end this awful impasse, which none of us like. We can confirm these hundreds of nominees. We can finally do right by the brave Americans who have dedicated their entire adult lives to keeping us safe.