11/17/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/17/2023 15:19
WASHINGTON-Late Wednesday night, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and the only member of the Senate currently serving in the military, led Republican senators and military veterans, Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), in again trying to confirm a number of the 450 general military officer promotions-one-, two-, three-, and four-star generals and admirals-that have been held for nine months. This is the second attempt by the senators to confirm these military nominees in the past month.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) put a blanket hold on these promotions beginning in February in response to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's new abortion travel policy. Sen. Sullivan, who is pro-life, also strongly objects to the Defense Department (DOD) policy, and has been working with Sen. Tuberville for months to try to find a solution, including putting a targeted hold on the confirmation of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, the number-three civilian official at the Pentagon who actually makes and implements policy. But Sen. Sullivan strongly opposes blanket holds on military officials' promotions, which only punishes military members and their families when they have absolutely nothing to do with the policy dispute.
"I'm honored to be here again with Senators Graham, Ernst, and Young," said Sen. Sullivan. "We were down on the floor two weeks ago, and at that time we promised military members and their families that we had their back, that we would keep coming down to the Senate floor to try to move forward their nominations and confirmations that have been stalled. We told them we're going to do that…My colleagues and I will keep our word. We keep our word to our military."
Sen. Sullivan, ranking member of the SASC Readiness Subcommittee, emphasized the Republican commitment to taking care of America's military service members and their families.
"My colleagues standing with me tonight and I have two big things in common: We're pro-life and we're pro-military," said Sen. Sullivan. "We've all served and understand the sacrifice of service, and we also understand that this blanket hold is punishing people who are seriously sacrificing for our country. It is a core principle, certainly of Republicans, to support our brave military members as they protect all of us."
Sen. Sullivan pointed out that the process he and his colleagues were undertaking was one that Senator Tuberville had previously agreed too.
"My colleague from Alabama said many times that if you bring up nominees one by one, he'd be fine with it…On September 6th, he said: 'I'm not holding up nominees from being approved. They can bring them to the floor one at a time and I won't block them.' That's what we're doing," said Sen. Sullivan.
"This is the most important question [for Sen. Tuberville]," Sen. Sullivan added. "Why punish patriotic military members over a policy dispute they have nothing to do with and can't fix? Why punish people who have seriously sacrificed for America-more than anyone else on the floor here, certainly-over a policy dispute they have nothing to do with? Why punish their families and the war heroes supporting these families that you will hear about tonight who served their country so faithfully when they have nothing to do with the dispute on the floor? Why punish some of the most experienced combat officers, when they have nothing to do with this dispute?"
Finally, in his attempt to get more nominees confirmed until almost 4:00 in the morning, Sen. Sullivan highlighted the fact that, right now, members of our military, including some whose promotions are being held, are under fire and in combat in the Middle East, and are deployed around the world over the holidays.
"This is having a huge readiness challenge and a huge morale challenge while our troops are literally in combat, literally under fire," said Sen. Sullivan. "Some of these officers being held in the Middle East in terms of their promotions are in combat right now."
For months, Sen. Sullivan has been advocating for challenging the DOD policy by putting a hold on the confirmation of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, the number-three civilian official at the Pentagon who actually makes and implements policy; trying to change the policy through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference committee process; and having Congress bring litigation to challenge the new policy.
But Sen. Sullivan does not support a blanket hold that punishes and disrupts the careers and lives of hundreds of military officers-some of the most combat-experienced men and women who have served our country honorably for decades-who have nothing to do with this dispute and no power to resolve it. Sen. Sullivan and his colleagues have been bringing each nominee up, one by one, as Senator Tuberville has requested, but he continues to block all of these promotions.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion, and Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)-representing millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Alaskans-have also voiced their opposition to Sen. Tuberville's blanket hold on military officer promotions, because these holds are severely damaging our military, its readiness, and military families during one of the most dangerous times since World War II. Sen. Sullivan also said he has heard from hundreds of military members across the nation thanking him for standing up for America's troops and their families when so many in Congress have been silent.
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