Senate Goes Around Tuberville, Confirms Joint Chiefs Chairman

Charles Brown Jr. will succeed Mark Milley next month
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2023 7:35 PM CDT
Senate OKs Joint Chiefs Chair
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown Jr., speaks during a Senate Armed Services budget hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington in May.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Gen. Charles Brown Jr., a fighter pilot and former Air Force chief of staff, was confirmed as the nation's next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Wednesday. His nomination was approved on an 83-11 Senate vote after being held up for months by Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville's blockade of military promotions over a Defense Department policy on access to abortion for service members that he opposes, the New York Times reports. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer brought the nomination to the floor anyway in a process that requires handling each selection individually, rather than approving them in groups. Tuberville was among the 11 Republicans voting against the four-star general.

Brown, who goes by "CQ," will succeed Army Gen. Mark Milley, who's retiring when his term ends next month. The confirmation avoids having a temporary administrator act as the president's chief military adviser, per the Washington Post, but still leaves more than 300 other nominations stalled by Tuberville. Schumer has the Senate on track to confirm two other nominees on Thursday: Gen. Eric Smith as commandant of the Marine Corps and Gen. Randy George as Army chief of staff, per the AP. John Kirby, White House national security spokesman, welcomed the votes. "While good for these three officers, it doesn't fix the problem or provide a path forward for the 316 other general and flag officers that are held up by this ridiculous hold," he told reporters.

Tuberville stuck to his position in a floor speech Wednesday afternoon. "If the Pentagon lifts the policy, then I will lift the hold. It's as easy as that," he said. Schumer said the Alabama senator declined a chance to put the Pentagon policy to a floor vote. The Democratic leader had predicted overwhelming approval of the nominations, so that "these three honorable men will finally be able to assume their positions," earlier in the day. "And the abortion policy that Senator Tuberville abhors will remain in place," Schumer told the Senate. "Sen. Tuberville will have accomplished nothing." (More US Senate stories.)

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