House Republicans who are veterans and focused on military issues in Congress are publicly voicing their frustration with Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) holds on military promotions.
Rep. Brandon Williams (R-N.Y.), who was a nuclear submarine officer for the Navy, revealed in a press conference on Friday that he forced a meeting with Tuberville to talk about a friend with whom he served in the Navy and who is set to take over command of the submarine force.
“I went and sat in Sen. Tuberville’s office for about 45 minutes until he had an opening and would see me, and we had a very frank conversation about it,” Williams said.
“At the time, I was led to believe that it wouldn’t last much longer. And here we are 2 1/2 months later. And we certainly don’t seem to be any closer,” Williams said. “So I’d like to see us get the leadership in place that we need, you know, to face the threats that we face.”
Tuberville has held up more than 300 military promotions for much of the year in protest of the Pentagon’s policy to reimburse travel expenses for service members who travel across state lines to get abortions.
Despite some of his Senate GOP colleagues urging him to let up, Tuberville has refused to budge and indicated this week he will not negotiate a compromise with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
“No, we’ve going down for seven months,” Tuberville said earlier this week when asked if he’s open to a compromise on abortion policy. “They’re not into it either. There’s no give-and-take here, either side.”
Republicans in the lower chamber are piping up, too.
In the same press conference on Friday, Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.), a Navy veteran, said he requested a meeting with Tuberville to talk about the military holds issue but has not yet gotten a response.
“He had mentioned that these are not officers who are warfighters, that these are desk jockeys in the Pentagon, but the reality is these folks have been warfighters for 20 years,” Garcia said. “These are the folks that I flew with in combat operations and they’re looking to continue that service, and they’re being compelled not to because of Senator Tuberville.”
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, expressed frustration about the military promotion holds combined with the threat of a government shutdown and hardline conservative opposition forcing leaders to punt consideration of a Department of Defense appropriations bill this week.
“Morale is not good in the military right now between the Tuberville situation — the constipation, basically, within the entire system right now. You got colonels that don’t know what’s happening in their lives, with their families, and, you know, how they’re going to look at the future,” Calvert said. “That has to come to an end.”
Calvert said after the press conference that he intends to seek a meeting with Tuberville.
Tuberville’s move has also elicited recent criticism from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas).
“The idea that one man in the Senate can hold this up for months — I understand maybe promotions, but nominations,” McCaul said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
“I think that is a national security problem and a national security issue. And I really wish he would reconsider this,” he added.
Tuberville’s office declined to comment on the criticism from House Republicans.