WASHINGTON — As Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., keeps hundreds of military promotions in the dark for the sixth straight month, his Republican colleagues are trying to deflect criticism by pointing the finger at a familiar Republican foe: Chuck Schumer, majority leader in the Senate.
“I think the majority leader should speak to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, just as we do with our top officials in the Cabinet,” said Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee , in an interview.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, also said that “this is completely within Senator Schumer’s control.”
“He filed, I think, five petitions this week regarding nominations. He could do that based on these military nominations, and it would break the impasse and, I think, get us to a resolution,” Cornyn said.
Cornyn and his fellow Republicans point to a procedure that would allow the Senate to consider the nominees, albeit with a delay. Tuberville’s grip only applies to quickly approving military promotions, which the Senate normally approves in large batches without delay because all 100 senators agree, while his fellow Republicans now say the chamber will approve the promotions one by one should consider.
Schumer, D-N.Y., deflected when asked whether he would support the nomination of Air Force Gen. CQ Brown Jr. chairman of the Joint Chiefs for an independent vote before Tuberville would lift his hold on all nominees. , especially since the current chairman, General Mark Milley, will leave by the end of the month.
“The bottom line is this is a problem created by Republicans, and it’s up to them to solve it,” Schumer told reporters. McConnell and Senator Thune have said they disagree with Tuberville. It is now up to the Republican Party to bring him into line. We are not going to pass the burden on to Democrats if this is a Republican-made problem.”
Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is the Senate minority leader. John Thune, R-S.D., is the minority whip.
Many Senate Democrats agree and see the prospects of approving promotions as an all-or-nothing proposition.
“Raising one, three or five will not solve the problem,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Tuberville has created a problem that permeates our entire military, and trying to patch up one hole will not solve that problem.”
In blocking the military appointments, Tuberville cited his objection to Defense Department policies that provide paid leave and travel reimbursements for service members and dependents seeking abortions.
As he delves into his tactics, the number of promotions not approved by the Senate only continues to grow. Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, DR.I., said that “650 of them will have to go through the Senate for promotion or [be] reassigned at the end of this year.”
The growing number of promotions and vacancies at the top of the military increases the pressure for some form of action.
“I think ultimately for the sake of our nation, we’re going to have to do this,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said of approving the top promotions one by one. “But I also think Senator Tuberville needs to be heard, and I’m all for getting votes and doing whatever he wants on this floor, as are all of us.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said the Senate should vote on the promotions, but he did not indicate how.
“I think we should start voting here soon,” Hawley said. “Because I don’t see the dam breaking any other way. So I mean, I would say, let’s start voting.”
Tuberville has said that a simple vote to overturn the Pentagon’s abortion policy would not be enough to unleash his power. Instead, he says he wants the Defense Department to undo the policy and then have the Senate vote to reinstate it. Both votes would likely fail in the Senate, where such legislation requires 60 votes.
The impasse has left Republicans scrambling for a solution, with Utah Senator Mitt Romney choosing a middle path, with the Pentagon saying it would stop paying travel expenses for abortion services for those more than 16 weeks pregnant.
“I would look for some kind of compromise,” Romney said. “The idea that one side or the other is going to give, that’s not how Washington works. There has to be something in the middle.”
But Tuberville, who says he has not had additional conversations with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin since their call in July, was dismissive of that potential compromise, saying he would “probably not” support it.
“I’m willing to talk, but it doesn’t seem like anyone wants to.” [a] conversation,” Tuberville said. ‘It’s their way [or] the highway.”
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com