Strange things sometimes happen in the world of politics, and that may never have been truer than it is today. So it is that Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) is currently working on a scheme to circumvent his own blockade of military promotions.
For 99.5% of the un-promoted people, Tuberville plans to stick to his guns. But, for whatever reason, he's decided that the Marine Corps really needs to have a new commandant. It's an important job, but is it really more significant than chairing the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Tuberville thinks so, and so he's gathering 16 signatures for a petition to hold a procedural vote. If the Senator gets the signatures he needs, then it would take 51 votes to bring the promotion to the floor of the Senate. If that happens, then it would also take 51 votes to approve the promotion.
On the whole, Democrats are not going to look favorably upon this course of action. They want maximal pressure on Tuberville. They also don't like to send the message to high-ranking military officers that if you're not the Commandant, you're really not that important. That said, the blue team also does not particularly want to give Republican politicians and right-wing media figures the ammunition needed to say "See! It's really the Democrats' fault the Corps has no Commandant!" So, it's hard to foresee how Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer & Co. will play this.
At the same time, there are also some Republican members who are not happy about this plan, starting with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). They too are not excited about insulting officers who are not the Commandant, nor do they want this blockade to continue forever. On top of that, part of what makes the Senate run is that only the Majority Leader brings items of business to the floor. If the precedent is set that any member can bring up anything as long as 16 other members agree, it could create chaos, not unlike what happens with the Freedom Caucus in the House. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) was close to using this same maneuver last month, and McConnell talked him out of it because of the long-term implications for the Senate. So, in short, it's also hard to foresee how McConnell and the non-whackadoodle Republicans will play this.
In the end, it's actually McConnell & Co. who have the greatest power to resolve this whole mess. It is very unlikely the Senate will change its rules, because the 99 non-Tuberville members want to retain their prerogative to block the occasional nominee. However, Tuberville could be made to feel some pain for his shenanigans. Funding for some key project in his state could be pulled, for example. Or his committee assignments could be canceled. Undoubtedly, the Democrats would be happy to do either or both of these things, but neither is going to happen until McConnell gets on board. So, he and his leadership team are really the ones to watch, both in terms of the current maneuvering, and in longer term. (Z)