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Senators to Tuberville: Do You Want to Rock?

Remember those McDonalds signs that listed how many hamburgers the chain had sold? We may need to start up something like that for stories about how angry the other senators are over Sen. Tommy Tuberville's (R-AL) hold on military promotions. Certainly, the number of items that we've seen on that subject numbers in the hundreds, and maybe in the thousands. That said, there is growing evidence that his colleagues, Democratic and Republican, are almost out of patience with "Coach."

As we have noted several times, there are multiple hundreds of promotions being held up by Tuberville, and dealing with them through normal order would take hundreds of days' worth of Senate time. Dealing with a few of the really big ones through normal order is doable, but sends a message to more junior officers ("You're not as important!") while also sending a message to a future obstructionist ("Go ahead and do it! You'll get some PR, and the rest of the Senate will bail you out of any really serious consequences").

That said, the situation in Israel, along with the heart attack suffered by Marine Corps commandant Eric Smith, means that waiting Tuberville out is a luxury that the nation cannot afford. And so yesterday, the Senate confirmed Adm. Lisa Franchetti as chief of naval operations and Gen. David Allvin as Air Force chief of staff. The vote, conducted via normal order, was 95-1 in both cases (with Roger Marshall, R-KS, the holdout; Tuberville voted in favor). This means that all seats among the Joint Chiefs are now filled. Our congratulations, in particular, to Adm. Franchetti, who becomes the first woman to lead the U.S. Navy, a bit more than a century after Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first woman to serve in the Navy.

So, where do we go from here? Well, to start, let us note that Tuberville's position—that he won't lift the hold until the Pentagon stops paying for women service members to travel for abortion services—has no real foundation. Lawyers from both the Dept. of Defense and Dept. of Justice have ruled that the allowance is legal, and no one, not even the activist groups, has filed a lawsuit to challenge it. The Senate Armed Services Committee has also voted down a motion to suspend the policy.

Still, Tuberville has dug his heels in, as his constituents like what he's doing, and backing down now would cause him to lose face. So, what can his 99 colleagues do? Here are the options:

There's no way to say how long this game of "look at me" will continue. However, it's going to be very difficult for the Senate to leave for its holiday break with the armed forces still twisting in the wind. Meanwhile, the budget fight will afford an opportunity to send some pork Tuberville's way. So maybe the light at the end of the tunnel is about to come into view. (Z)

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