Pentagon warns Tuberville blockade could bring Senate to ‘complete shutdown’

A spokesperson for the Pentagon challenged Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) over his continued blockade on senior military promotions, saying that a solution around his protests would stop all work in the Senate.

Tuberville has prevented more than 300 senior military promotions from being approved by the Senate for nearly six months due to a protest over the Department of Defense’s policy allowing military service members to receive abortion care.

Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said Tuberville’s protest is already causing stress and problems in senior military leadership.

“It’s pretty important, when we’re talking about roles not being filled, we’re talking about someone who is doing that job that should be done by two different people,” Singh said in an interview with The Hill on NewsNation. “[The commandant of the Marines] is doing a dual-hatted role right now because Sen. Tuberville is holding up his confirmation.”

The Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps do not have Senate-confirmed leadership in place, meaning the interim replacement’s authority is limited.

One proposed solution would be to take the promotion motions onto the floor of the Senate and pass them individually with all senators voting by roll call, instead of as a bloc with unanimous consent voting.

“We can break out members from the bloc of over 300 nominees for promotion and if you want to have a debate on each one, have it go to unanimous consent and get it rejected by Sen. Tuberville or another Republican, then it goes to hours of debate,” Singh said. 

“Do you want the Senate to go into a complete shutdown? No, I don’t think anyone wants that,” she continued.

Tuberville’s controversial blockage has come under criticism from Democrats, the White House, military leaders and advocates, and even Alabama voters. Fellow Republicans have attempted to negotiate with the senator to stop the protest but have so far failed.

Earlier this week, the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force published a joint op-ed in The Washington Post railing Tuberville over his protest, saying it hurts the country’s military.

“What we will still continue to do here at the Pentagon is to highlight how damaging this is for our national security, for our readiness for our military families,” Singh said. “That’s something that a senator who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee should really understand.”

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