Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor announcing he has filed cloture on three military nominations. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
The senior Senator from Alabama—Senator Tuberville— for more than six months has continued his brazen, reckless hold of hundreds of routine, non-political promotions of senior military officers.
Democrats have said all along that these promotions should move forward together as these nominations have for decades in the past. They should have happened a long time ago. They should have happened the way these promotions have been done in the Senate, until Senator Tuberville arrived. They should’ve been done quickly and in a bipartisan way.
Instead the Senator from Alabama decided he would take the unprecedented step of holding up these promotions because he held a political position on abortion that doesn’t have the votes to pass the Senate, and is opposed by the Commander-in-Chief and the Secretary of Defense.
This poorly conceived tactic has also been opposed by the Senate Republican leadership. Leader McConnell and Senator Thune have both voiced grave concerns about the path that Senator Tuberville has taken. And Speaker McCarthy, when asked about it this week, demurred and said “I’m the Speaker of the House.”
Senator Tuberville’s tactics have been opposed by top Republicans in Congress. It has been opposed by Republican presidential candidates.
And it has been denounced by military families from one end of America to the other. It has been denounced by veterans groups.
Polls show that the American people strongly oppose what Senator Tuberville is doing.
And a recent poll showed that even 58 percent of Alabama voters believe Senator Tuberville should allow the promotions to go forward.
Simply put - besides the most extreme elements of the Republican Party - no one thinks this is a good idea.
And in the face of that opposition it seems that Senator Tuberville is becoming more and more desperate to get out of the box he has put himself in.
He’s desperate to shift the responsibility onto others. But I have made it clear that we will not allow anyone to shift this on to Democrats. The blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the Senior Senator from Alabama.
I offered to give him a vote to get the Department of Defense to do what he wants on abortion in the NDAA. He never, never took me up on that vote.
When Democrats tried to move all the nominations--because Democrats don’t want to leave anyone in our military behind--Senator Tuberville objected.
And now, in a further act of desperation, Senator Tuberville is seeking to use a procedural step to overcome his very own holds.
Yes, you heard that right: Senator Tuberville is seeking to undo his own holds. The man who is holding everything up is trying to obfuscate things by playing this ruse on the floor.
Senator Tuberville is essentially trying to make himself the gatekeeper of which officers are promoted and who sits and waits.
Instead of just getting out of the way, and allowing the Senate to approve the promotions that these decorated military officers deserve, the Senator from Alabama, unfortunately and wrongly, is using them as pawns.
What Senator Tuberville is doing will set the military and the Senate down a path to vote on every single military promotion. It will make every single military officer’s promotion subject to the political whims of the Senate and even of one senator.
It will change the nature of our non-political military.
It will hamstring the Senate and further bog down this body and make it harder for us to legislate. It will take time away from appropriations. It will make it harder to get things done to benefit the American people.
The decision by the senior Senator from Alabama will have long-lasting repercussions that may not be apparent right away but we may come to regret. I believe we will come to regret them.
But due to the extraordinary circumstances of Senator Tuberville’s reckless decisions, Democrats will take action. It’s not the path the vast majority of senators on either side of the aisle want to go down, but Senator Tuberville is forcing us to confront his obstruction head-on.
I want to make clear to my Republican colleagues, this cannot continue. We cannot continue down this path. It threatens the ability of the Senate and the leadership of both sides to work together to get things done for the American people and it threatens the non-political nature of our military service members.
Senator Tuberville’s obstruction is pushing the Senate down this road and where it goes from here will depend on all of us.
The Senate runs on unanimous consent, and we depend on each other to ensure this institution functions smoothly. That’s how we make things happen around here. If everyone objected to everything to get leverage for their pet priorities, it will grind this body to a halt.
Either we choose a different direction or we continue down the road of more and more obstruction.
It is my hope, indeed it’s my prayer, that we find a better way. Our military deserves better.
We cannot allow Senator Tuberville to set the Senate on a path that no Senator wants to travel.
We cannot allow Senator Tuberville to decide which of our dedicated and brave service members get promoted and which get to languish; which military families are able to settle in their new posts and which must remain in limbo.
We cannot, we should not allow that to be the case.
So I have just filed cloture on the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Army Chief of Staff.
These men should have already been confirmed. They should already be serving in their new positions. The Senate should not have to go through procedural hoops just to please one brazen and misguided Senator.
But this is where we are.
In the end, the Senate will overwhelmingly vote to overcome Senator Tuberville’s blockade of these three nominees by voting for cloture.
Then the Senate will overwhelmingly vote to confirm them and these three honorable men will finally be able to assume their positions.
And the abortion policy that Senator Tuberville abhors will remain in place.
Senator Tuberville will have accomplished nothing.
But the harm he is doing to the military and their families remains and, unfortunately, continues for hundreds of others.
For the information of all Senators – now that I have filed these motions, I will request consent to collapse the time and hold these votes later this afternoon. I hope Senator Tuberville does not object. But if he does, Senators should expect votes on Friday and possibly Saturday to finish consideration of these nominations.
Again, I will shortly move to speed up the votes on these amendments to this afternoon and I hope the Senator will not object, but if he does we’ll stay until we get them done.
Finally, Senator Tuberville’s unprecedented disrespect of the men and women who lead our military has, unsurprisingly, caused many of our colleagues to discuss the ways to change the way we process military nominations.
They recognize that the Senate process is being abused and that Senator Tuberville’s reckless actions are harming hundreds of military families.
Once again, I wish we were not in this position.
I wish my Republican colleagues who do care deeply about keeping our military strong were able to prevail on Senator Tuberville to completely change his tactics.
They clearly made some progress which forced him to vainly attempt a procedural play but this is not a sustainable path.
Senator Tuberville’s continued abuse of his privilege will continue to disrupt the lives of hundreds of our nation’s finest and most dedicated military officers and their families.
And while we Democrats didn’t choose this fight, we are ready to put an end to this sooner rather than later.