US Army, Marine Corps leaders confirmed; other military promotions still in limbo

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed General Randy George to be the chief of staff of the Army and General Eric Smith to lead the Marine Corps, as lawmakers moved to confirm some of the top senior officers whose promotions have been stalled by a Republican senator’s blockade.

The Senate confirmed General Charles Q. Brown to be the top U.S. military official on Wednesday.

The Senate backed George to be the Army chief by a vote of 96 to 1 and Smith 96 to 0 to be the commandant of the Marine Corps.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, used a procedural maneuver to sidestep a blockade by Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville.

Tuberville began blocking confirmations to senior Pentagon posts in March to protest a Defense Department policy enacted last year that provides paid leave and reimburses costs for service members who travel to get an abortion.

Schumer’s action does not address hundreds of other military promotions still being delayed by Tuberville’s blockade.

Military officials have said the blockade of hundreds of military promotions could have a far-reaching impact across the armed forces, affecting troops and their families and harming national security.

“From a Department of Defense standpoint, we’ve been very clear that we would like the holds to be lifted so that we can ensure that we have the right officers, in the right jobs, at the right time,” Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder told reporters.

The Senate’s approval of military promotions is usually smooth. Tuberville’s hold cannot prevent the Democratic-majority Senate from voting on any promotion, but it can drastically slow the process.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)

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