The nominee to be the Navy’s top military leader told Congress Thursday it could take “years” to untangle military promotions as a result of the blockade Republican Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville has placed on the highest-ranking officers.
Adm. Lisa Franchetti testified to Congress about her nomination as the next Chief of Naval Operations, although Tuberville’s hold will prevent her confirmation and she is filling the post in an acting capacity since her predecessor retired in August. At the hearing, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts warned that the six-month hold, which now directly applies to more than 300 generals and admirals, could disrupt Navy operations down to the lowest levels and exacerbate the service’s recruiting crisis.
“The price our nation will pay for the reckless behavior of Senator Tuberville will reach far into the future,” Warren said.
Tuberville maintains the holds are not impacting military readiness and only inconvenience those at the highest ranks who are subject to his blockade. He pledged to vote in favor of nominees if Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed to hold individual confirmation votes and said Thursday he looked forward to seeing Franchetti take over the Navy.
However, the Pentagon argues the holds create a pile-up of officers that eventually affects those at the lower level, who cannot promote because their superior officers have not been able to move up.
“Senator, I think just at the three-star level it would take about three or four months to move all of the people around, but it will take years to recover, if confirmed, for the promotion delays that we would see forward,” Franchetti said in answer to Warren’s questioning.
“Senator Tuberville likes to talk about how we are in a recruiting crisis, but for the first time in 60 years, the Naval Academy is starting the school year without a confirmed superintendent. But every young person at the naval academy, every young person who is thinking about applying to the academy and every young person anywhere in the Navy must confront the fact head-on that senator Tuberville has turned the Navy and the Naval Academy into one more political football,” Warren said.
Franchetti said Navy families have expressed concerns about difficulty with moving, finding new schools and jobs for spouses, amid uncertainty over the future of officers.
Tuberville, in the hearing, did not directly address the blockade implemented in March as a protest of the Pentagon’s policy to fund travel so servicemembers can obtain abortions, which he says potentially violates the law.
Instead, he urged Franchetti to leave politics to the Senate and ensure the Navy works as a “team” rather than divided into groups based on race and gender or sexual identity.
“I know you can do that job; I’m looking forward to it,” Tuberville told Franchetti.
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