VICTORY for now: Sen. Mike Lee Rides White Horse To Rescue Tuberville from Treachery
GOP senators' latest effort to end Tuberville's military nominee blockade goes through the night -- and fails
Despite another round of Republican infighting on the Senate floor lasting into the early-morning hours on Thursday, a group of GOP senators again failed to maneuver around Sen. Tommy Tuberville's blockade of military nominations over a Pentagon abortion policy.
It's the second time in as many weeks that a group of Tuberville's Republican colleagues, led by Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, have spent hours sharing stories of military heroes to argue they deserve confirmation. More than 400 military nominations are stalled because of Tuberville's blanket hold on the Senate confirming promotions for senior military officers.
Between midnight and 3:30 a.m., Ernst and Sullivan told of valor and bravery by dozens of military professionals. But that tactic once again didn't persuade Tuberville, or his new ally, Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, to back down..................
Tuberville has been blocking Senate confirmation of hundreds of military nominees for more than nine months over objections to a Department of Defense policy that allows military members to be compensated for out-of-state travel to obtain an abortion. He asserts that it amounts to illegal taxpayer-funded abortion. Earlier this month, Tuberville said he "works for the American people" and speculated that many don't want their tax dollars to go toward service members' abortions.
"This is a policy that is illegal and immoral. This is about life and it's also about the rule of law. It's about our Constitution. It's about whether we make laws at the Pentagon or whether we follow the Constitution. This is also about the integrity of our military," Tuberville said in a floor speech last week. "I cannot simply sit idly by while the administration injects politics in our military and spends taxpayer money on abortion."......................
..................Lee, a strict constitutionalist, joined Tuberville in his blockade. And he held the floor with two lengthy filibusters after each nominee was raised.
Lee said he did so not because he agrees with Tuberville's tactic, but because he believes in defending Tuberville's power as a single senator, under Senate rules, to exert a hold.
This argument has come into focus in recent days as the Senate has considered the Democratic resolution to get around Tuberville. Many Republicans have been reluctant to support that resolution, which would require the support of at least nine Republicans to pass, because they don't want to risk modifying the Senate rules or curtailing the power of individual senators.
Tuberville has been able to block nominees from being confirmed in large groups because the Senate rules require all 100 Senators to agree to expediting passage of things. Any member has the power to put a hold on any nominee for any reason. But military nominees are generally not blocked, because they're seen as apolitical.
"This is his right. It's a right that I will defend til my last breath for the simple reason that it is his right to do it and he is right to do it," Lee said as he defended Tuberville.
Tuberville has said in the past that he'd allow nominees to be confirmed individually. He has allowed for the confirmation of six high-profile military members that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has filed for individual confirmation of and forced the Senate to take procedural votes on.
But Sullivan and Ernst say their efforts do amount to individual consideration of nominees.
It's not clear whether Tuberville can be persuaded to come off of his hold. And the efforts overnight put a point on the growing number of Republicans who could be poised to take drastic steps to get around him.
Schumer has said he soon intends to bring the resolution to get around Tuberville to the floor. Whether there will be the nine Republicans necessary to support it is an open question.