The Chinese military is likely popping “champagne corks” because of Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s continued stranglehold on U.S. military promotions, according to Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly.
Tuberville, an Alabama Republican who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, blocked hundreds of military promotions to protest the Pentagon’s policy on abortion access for service members. Lawmakers on both sides, however, condemned the senator’s protest, and senior military officials warned last week that the seizures could have a “corrosive effect” on the armed forces over time.
“Among my Democratic and Republican colleagues, I mean, how do we get out of this?” Kelly, a Democratic committee member, told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Tuesday evening.
“You know, let me first point out, Chris, that this is unprecedented,” Kelly continued. “This Senator Tuberville did something that has not been done in the history of the United States. I mean, (the) delay (of) nominations and promotions of admirals and generals… it’s been going on now more than six months. And this has a serious negative effect on our national security.”
Kelly’s appearance on MSNBC came hours after the Armed Services Committee hosted Air Force Gen. David Allvin for his nomination hearing. Call reported that Allvin, who was nominated by President Joe Biden to be the next Air Force chief of staff, “passed” his audition, although some lawmakers on the panel acknowledged that his confirmation may not happen anytime soon in light of Tuberville’s protests.
The Arizona senator noted that lawmakers from both parties need to “pressure” Tuberville to end the blockade and said he has had “several conversations” with Republican lawmakers about how the Senate could overcome the blockage. Texas Republican Congressman Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, publicly condemned Tuberville during an appearance on CNN Monday, accusing the senator of “crippling” the Pentagon.
“Do you know who’s celebrating right now? Kelly continued by speaking with Hayes. “You know, the Chinese government and the Chinese military… There are probably, in the Chinese embassy here, champagne corks popping because of this.”
“It’s very good for them,” he added. “It’s very good for (Russian President) Vladimir Putin. It’s very bad for the U.S. military. We have to find a way forward.”
News week contacted the Tuberville office by email Tuesday evening for comment.
After facing backlash from Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and Army Secretary Christine Wormuth last week, Tuberville released a video on , formerly Twitter, dismissing attacks from senior military officials as “another example of woke propaganda.”
“I am not preventing any nomination from being approved,” Tuberville said during his video message. “They can bring them on to the field one by one, they chose not to.”
“There is no threat to readiness,” he continued. “The people we really have to worry about are the colonels, the majors, the sergeants and the privates, those are the ones who are preparing to go to war. The people here at the Pentagon, I don’t know what they’re all doing days. but they are more there to give advice.”
Military promotions require a unanimous vote of members of the Armed Services Committee. Lawmakers could instead choose to vote on the nominees in the full Senate, but Democrats warn the process could take several months.