The Senate confirmed Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after a monthslong hold on his nomination by Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
Brown, who currently serves as chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, was confirmed by a large margin in a bipartisan vote of 83 to 11, which was allowed to proceed after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer invoked cloture. His is the first high-ranking military nomination to be confirmed since Tuberville imposed a hold on military nominees on Mar. 8, in protest against the Department of Defense’s policy of reimbursing servicemembers for travel to obtain an abortion in states where the procedure is permitted.
Brown’s confirmation means that the role, which entails being the principal military advisor to the president of the United States and international representative of the U.S. armed forces, will not be vacant once current Chairman Mark Milley retires. Brown was appointed to his current role by former President Donald Trump.
Along with Brown’s confirmation, cloture was invoked on the nominations of two other officers — Gen. Randy George to be the chief of staff of the Army and Gen. Eric M. Smith to be the commandant of the Marine Corps. Both nominees are currently serving in their nominated roles on an acting basis.
Schumer had previously insisted that military nominees would not be confirmed by individual votes, a process known as “regular order,” and called on Tuberville to drop his hold. “We’re not going to shift the burden to Democrats when this is a Republican-caused problem,” he told reporters, NBC News reported.
Tuberville, by contrast, had encouraged Schumer to use regular order to confirm nominees. President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats have defended the Pentagon’s abortion travel reimbursement policy as essential for military recruitment while criticizing Republican opposition to the policy as “an ode to bigotry and ignorance.”
Many Republican senators and political commentators, however, claimed that Schumer’s unwillingness to use regular order was a political strategy, designed to highlight Republicans’ anti-abortion views amid Democrats use of the issue as an electoral argument.
“I’ve never seen Chuck Schumer pass up an opportunity to pander to the radical left flank of his base. This move by the Leader is predictable,” wrote Republican Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas in an email to the DCNF.
“Senator Schumer is showing exactly what he could have been doing with our military nominations months and months ago, yet refused to do that,” said Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, in comments shared by her staff with the DCNF. “For all of you laying the blame at Tommy Tuberville’s feet, Schumer’s had this opportunity for months now.”
The White House and Milley did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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