Tuberville drops holds on more than 430 military promotions

by Tommy Grant

Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville on Tuesday dropped his nearly 10-month hold on hundreds of senior military promotions amid growing pressure from GOP and Democratic colleagues who asserted the move was endangering national security.

Tuberville’s decision to stall nearly all high-level Defense Department nominations since the start of the year stemmed from his objections to the Pentagon’s abortion access policies, which allowed for uncharged leave and travel stipends for troops forced to travel across state lines for abortion services because of local laws.

The Alabama senator’s stance became national news and an ongoing headache for military leaders, many of whom have been forced to delay retirements and use interim appointees to man a host of leadership positions.

As of Dec. 1, there were 445 senior military promotions that had been delayed by the move, including high-profile posts like the new head of U.S. Cyber Command, the new commander of Pacific Fleet and the new director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Tuberville, meanwhile, said he is not dropping all of the holds. The senator intends to delay 11 four-star posts still pending in the Senate in continued protest of the abortion access policy.

But his announcement Tuesday opens the door for more than 430 other senior defense posts to be filled in coming days. Senate Democratic leaders have promised to advance the group as soon as possible.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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