Three senior military officials were confirmed by the Senate after being delayed by Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville’s anti-abortion protest.
Multiple branches of the military have been without confirmed leadership since February after Tuberville stalled the process while requesting the Department of Defense end its policy of paying for service members’ abortion-related travel expenses.
The Senate confirmed Admiral Lisa Franchetti as the Chief of Naval Operations. Franchetti, who had previously served as the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, was nominated by President Joe Biden in July. Biden celebrated the appointment as a win for gender representation.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had reportedly recommended Admiral Samuel Paparo to lead the Navy. Instead, Biden nominated Paparo to lead the Indo-Pacific Command.
The Senate also confirmed David Allvin as the chief of staff of the Air Force. Allvin has been serving as the acting chief of staff since October, when his predecessor, Genera Charles Brown, was confirmed as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Both Franchetti and Allvin were confirmed 95-1 with Senator Roger Marshall casting the only “no” votes, reports The Hill.
Additionally, Lieutenant General Christopher Mahoney was confirmed as the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. His confirmation comes one week after acting Commandant General Eric Smith, who was confirmed in September, was hospitalized following a heart attack. Smith is in stable condition and is recovering, per USNI News.
Tuberville’s protest prevents Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer from holding a voice vote, which expedites the confirmation process. Schumer had largely refused to hold individual votes for each military nomination until this fall.
The Alabama senator has spoken to Austin privately on at least two occasions about his blockade. Austin authorized the DOD policy that covers the costs of service members who travel out of state to undergo an abortion. Tuberville has called the policy an illegal expansion of the department’s authority and objects to the use of taxpayer-generated funds for abortion-related expenses.
“I’m trying to keep the White House from playing dictator along with the Pentagon,” said Tuberville while speaking with Fox News. “Abortion is the No. 1 issue in our country in our lifetime when it comes to social issues, and the American people need to have a say so now.”
“I know there’s some people [who] probably need promotions, and it means a little bit more money,” he added. “But at the end of the day, I’ve talked to a lot of generals and admirals, and they’ve all said, ‘Listen, the job is getting done.’”
Tuberville has requested a vote be held to codify the abortion travel expense policy. The Republican said he would agree to end his blockade if the motion passed so long as the DOD agreed to repeal the expanded policy provided the measure failed.
The senator maintained his protest in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, which ignited increasing tension in the region.
“The Pentagon clearly thinks forcing taxpayers to facilitate abortion is more important than confirming their top nominees without a vote,” said Steve Stafford, a spokesman for Tuberville, in a statement to NBC News. “They could end this situation TODAY by dropping their illegal and immoral policy and get everyone confirmed rapidly, but they refuse.”
Approximately 400 military nominations are still pending confirmations.