Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Senate confirmed nearly a dozen military officers to four-star positions on Tuesday, ending Senator Tommy Tuberville’s nearly yearlong blockade of promotions for senior generals and admirals.

In a last-minute turnaround, Mr. Tuberville, an Alabama Republican who had been protesting a Pentagon abortion policy, agreed to drop his objections to the promotions. That allowed the officers’ swift confirmation by unanimous consent — and enabled senators to wrap up a major piece of business standing between them and a holiday break.

“These 11 flag officers have now been approved, joining the rest of their colleagues,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said on the Senate floor. “That’s good news.”

Later Tuesday night, the Senate also voted by voice to pass a bill extending the authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration through early March, buying Congress time to continue working on a five-year extension to improve air travel and safety while updating airport infrastructure.

Mr. Tuberville had been holding up the promotions of senior military officials to protest a Pentagon policy ensuring that service members needing to go long distances to obtain an abortion or other reproductive health care services would receive time off and have their travel expenses covered. The Defense Department adopted the policy after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, creating a patchwork of abortion laws throughout the country.

Mr. Tuberville had long insisted that the Pentagon would have to reverse the policy for him to relent. But under pressure from other Republicans, he agreed this month to allow the bulk of the promotions to proceed, and the Senate promptly confirmed over 440 service members to senior positions as a bloc. Under that arrangement, Mr. Tuberville had continued to object to the promotions of the 11 most senior generals and admirals pending before the Senate.

The list of four-star officers confirmed on Tuesday included the heads of major combatant commands. Among them were Lt. Gen. Gregory M. Guillot of the Air Force, who will lead U.S. Northern Command; Lt. Gen. Timothy D. Haugh of the Air Force, who will take over U.S. Cyber Command; and Lt. Gen. Stephen N. Whiting of Space Force, who will be the head of U.S. Space Command.

The Senate also confirmed officers to serve as vice chiefs of staff for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Space Operations. The Senate had voted this year to confirm the top uniformed officers in the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force as well as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of whose promotions had been subject to Mr. Tuberville’s hold.

“It’s a really strong group,” Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska, said in an interview before the vote. Mr. Sullivan was one of the leading Republicans pressuring Mr. Tuberville to drop his objections in recent weeks.

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