Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Schumer Moves to Fill Joint Chiefs Vacancies

Gen. Eric Smith is a Marine, and so is undoubtedly very physically fit. However, he's also in his late 50's and he's been grossly overworked due to vacancies at the top of the military hierarchy. And over the weekend, he ended up in the hospital with what proved to be a heart attack.

Was the heart attack caused by overwork? Who knows? Nonetheless, that is the connection that anyone and everyone in Washington made. And so, there was near-instantaneous maneuvering by Democrats to change the Senate rules so that nominees could be approved this one time, en masse, even if Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) continued to refuse unanimous consent. For this to happen, it would have required at least some Republican votes, in addition to all the Democrats and independents.

As of yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) adopted a new tack. Now, he's working to confirm, through normal order, Adm. Lisa Franchetti to be chief of Naval Operations, Gen. David Allvin to be Air Force chief of staff, and Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney to be assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. The former pair would fill the current vacancies on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, while the confirmation of Mahoney would give him full authority to do Smith's job while Smith is convalescing.

Schumer did not announce it publicly, of course, but we presume that the shift to normal order means the votes weren't there to change the rules, even for a one-time thing. So, the Senate is no closer to a resolution of the promotion situation than it was at the beginning of the week. Tuberville clearly isn't going to yield to pressure, no matter how great that pressure gets. Either the Democrats need to get every member on board and vote to change Senate rules permanently (that would only take 51 votes), or they need to find some workaround that 10-16 Republicans will support, or they need to put a lot more "normal order" promotions on the agenda. (Z)

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