Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., will attempt to seek a vote this week to confirm Gen. Eric Smith to serve as the permanent commandant for the Marine Corps, coming as the Republican lawmaker continues his long-held protest over the Pentagon’s abortion policy.
Tuberville will make the move on Wednesday, his office confirmed to USA TODAY. It’s not clear whether Senate Democrats, who control the upper chamber, will object to the effort as part of broader opposition to holding these one-off votes for military leaders.
The Alabama lawmaker has blocked promotions for more than 300 senior Pentagon officers that require Senate confirmation as a protest against a Department of Defense policy. The provision includes some paid leave and other expenses for service members traveling to have an abortion. He has claimed the policy is a violation of federal law.
Gen. David Berger stepped down as commandant of the Marine Corps earlier this year after taking over in July 2019. Smith was able to serve as the acting commandant.
The last time the Marine Corps was led by an acting commandant was 1910, according to the Associated Press.
Tuberville’s protest has largely been met with indifference among his Republican colleagues, a USA TODAY survey found. Democrats and Pentagon leaders maintain that Tuberville’s nine-month hold on military promotions has damaged national security by preventing generals and admirals from taking key commands.
The Alabama senator has also been accused of creating hardships for military families and injecting politics into a nomination process that for decades was little more than a formality.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, has said he doesn’t support Tuberville’s blockades, but individual senators can hold up votes in the upper chamber.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, previously told USA TODAY that “I think there ought to be some kind of negotiation or discussion going on to see if there’s not some compromise or meeting of the mind.”
“Find some middle ground and move on, but I don’t want to see our military continue to be affected as it is,” he added.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tuberville to seek Marine Corps leader vote despite abortion protest
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