WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate confirmed Gen. on Wednesday. CQ Brown He will be named the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, succeeding Gen. Mark Milley when he retires at the end of the month.
Brown’s confirmation by an 83-11 vote, months after President Joe Biden nominated him for the post, comes at a time when Democrats are trying to maneuver around Hundreds of nominations are withheld by Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville on the Pentagon’s abortion policy. The Senate is also expected to confirm it Gen. Randy George to become chief of staff of the army and Gen. Eric Smith as commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps this week.
Tuberville blocked the Senate from going through the routine process of approving military nominations in groups, frustrating Democrats who had said they would not go through the time-consuming process of bringing individual nominations to a vote. More than 300 nominations are still stalled due to the Tuberville blockade, and it would take months to confirm them one by one.
But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) changed course on Wednesday and forced votes for Brown, George and Smith.
“Senator Tuberville is forcing us to confront his obstruction head-on,” Schumer said. “I want to make it clear to my Republican colleagues: Things cannot continue like this.”
Tuberville did not object to the confirmation votes and said he would retain his votes but agreed to bring nominations forward individually for roll call votes.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Brown’s confirmation, along with expected votes on Smith and George, was positive news. But “we should never have been in this position,” he said.
“While it is good for these three officers, it does not solve the problem or provide a path forward for the 316 other general and flag officers held up by this ridiculous suspension,” Kirby told reporters.
Brown, a career fighter pilot, was the first black commander of the Air Force’s Pacific Air Forces and most recently its first black chief of staff, making him the first African American to lead either branch of the military. His confirmation will also mark the first time that the top two positions at the Pentagon have been held by African Americans Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin as supreme civilian leader.
In a statement late Wednesday, Austin said Brown will be a “tremendous leader” as the new chairman.
Brown, 60, replaces Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley, who is retiring after four decades of military service. Milley’s four-year term as chairman ends September 30.
Tuberville said Wednesday that he would continue to withhold the other nominations unless the Pentagon ends its policy on travel expenses when a service member needs to leave the state to have an abortion or other reproductive treatment. The Biden administration implemented the policy after the Supreme Court struck down the nationwide right to abortion and some states restricted or banned the procedure.
“Let’s do it one at a time or change the policy again,” Tuberville said after Schumer put the three nominations up for a vote. “Let’s vote on this.”
To force Tuberville to act, Democrats had said they would not bring up the top-ranking candidates while the others were still stalled. “There’s an old saying in the military: Leave no one behind,” Senate Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed said in July.
But in a frustrated speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Schumer said he had no choice.
“Senator Tuberville is using them as pawns,” Schumer said of the nominees.
The votes come at a time when numerous military officers have commented on the matter Damage of delays for military personnel. While Tuberville’s positions are focused on all general and flag officers, they impact the careers of the military’s younger up-and-coming officers. Until every general or admiral is confirmed, the opportunity for a junior officer to advance is blocked.
That affects pay, retirement, lifestyle and future roles – and in some areas where the private sector pays more, it becomes harder to get these well-educated young leaders to stay.
“Senator Tuberville’s continued influence over hundreds of our nation’s military leaders threatens our national security and military readiness. “It is long past time to confirm the 300-plus other military nominees,” Austin said, noting he will “continue to work personally with members of Congress of both parties until all of these well-qualified, non-political officers are confirmed.”
Tuberville said he hasn’t spoken to Austin about the suspensions since July.
The deadlock has frustrated members on both sides, and it is still unclear how the larger standoff will be resolved. Schumer did not say whether he would submit additional nominations.
The months-long delays have turned into a complicated procedural back-and-forth in recent days.
Tuberville won after Schumer’s push, even though Pentagon policy remains unchanged.
“We called them out and they blinked,” he told reporters about Schumer.
Associated Press writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.