Published On: Wed, Oct 11th, 2023
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Rep. Pat Ryan to introduce resolution demanding Tuberville lift hold on military nominations amid Israel-Hamas war

A Democratic House member on Wednesday afternoon will introduce a resolution formally demanding Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., to lift his monthslong blockade on hundreds of military promotions amid the deadly Israel-Hamas war after his office said he won’t budge.

In a statement, Rep. Pat Ryan, D-N.Y., a vice-ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, decried Tuberville’s blockade as a threat to the lives of Israelis and U.S. troops amid the ongoing war.

“Our most critical ally is fighting an existential war for their nation’s survival. Yet MAGA extremists, led by Tommy Tuberville, are more concerned with waging a culture war, endangering both our Israeli allies and our own troops,” Ryan said.

“The people of Israel are depending on us. China, Iran, and Russia are watching for signs of weakness,” he added. “We must stand together as patriots and show the forces of evil around the world that there is no greater friend and no worse foe than the United States of America.”

Tommy Tuberville sits at desk in hearing.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-AL, in 2021. Tom Brenner / Pool / Getty Images

While noting the Biden administration’s recent move to send ships from the Navy’s USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Ryan pointed out that the fleet lacks a Senate-confirmed commander as a result of the Tuberville-led blockade on military nominations.

Ryan, a combat veteran and former Army Intelligence Officer, also noted that the more than 300 confirmations that are currently in limbo include “several critical command positions” that are needed to carry out commitments by the U.S. to support Israeli allies as the war rages on.

“These are crucial positions needed to ensure that the state of Israel has the support it needs, stranded American citizens receive the help they require, and the United States is able to help deter the possibility of a catastrophic escalation of this war to other fronts by Hezbollah, Iran, or others,” he said. “This is a moment where the U.S. must stand strongly and unequivocally with the State of Israel, ensuring we have a lethal and ready force in an existential fight.”

Reached for comment, Tuberville’s office pointed to the House-passed defense bill which would restrict the Pentagon’s abortion policy. “It’s clear that the House majority stands with Coach,” Tuberville spokesperson Steve Stafford said.

Ryan’s resolution comes days after the office of Tuberville said he won’t lift his blockade on hundreds of military promotions in the wake of Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel, a close U.S. ally, last weekend.

“The Pentagon clearly thinks forcing taxpayers to facilitate abortion is more important than confirming their top nominees without a vote. They could end this situation TODAY by dropping their illegal and immoral policy and get everyone confirmed rapidly, but they refuse,” Stafford said in a statement to NBC News on Sunday. “If the Biden administration wants their nominees confirmed then Senate Democrats can do what Coach just did in September and file a cloture petition to force a vote.”

“Coach” refers to Tuberville’s previous work as a college football coach.

Tuberville’s monthslong blockade has held up at least 300 military nominees, including top officers who would command forces in the Middle East. He said his move is in protest of the Defense Department policy that provides time off and reimbursements for service members and their family members seeking abortions out of state.

Tuberville has faced backlash from Democrats, the White House and some Republicans, who have said that his use of a procedural tactic to slow down the confirmation of military officials poses a threat to the military’s preparedness. Although he can’t actually block the Senate from processing military promotions, his hold has significantly slowed down a process that typically moves forward without votes.

Tuberville and some Republicans have argued that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., could call each of the hundreds of nominations for individual votes — which could potentially involve hours of floor time for each nominee.

The Senate last month used that strategy to confirm its first military nominees in months — Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s top military officer; Gen. Randy George as Army chief of staff; and Gen. Eric Smith as commandant of the Marine Corps.

As of Wednesday morning, at least 1,200 Israelis — including more than 150 soldiers — have been killed and more than 2,700 injured, according to the Israel Defense Forces. At least 1,100 people in Gaza have been killed and 5,000 injured, according to the health ministries in Gaza and the West Bank.

President Joe Biden in a speech on Tuesday called Hamas’ attacks “vicious” and vowed support for Israel in the face of “pure, unadulterated evil.” He also confirmed that Americans are being held hostage by Hamas fighters, but did not specify how many. He is set to deliver remarks on the crisis later Wednesday.

22 Americans have been killed and 17 Americans remain unaccounted for, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre said Wednesday.

As of Wednesday morning, Israel said its fighter jets have struck 450 targets in Gaza in 24 hours after its military claimed to regained control inside the country after it launched a “full siege” of Gaza that restricted food, gas and power from the densely populated area. 

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said that “fighting will intensify” and warned that scenes coming out of Gaza would be “difficult to understand and cope with.” 

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