(CTN NEWS) – For the first time in over 150 years, the US Marine Corps is without a confirmed commandant as a Republican senator’s protest against abortion disrupts over 200 military appointments.
The Senate Armed Services committee and the full chamber typically approve top military nominations, but a single senator can impede the process.
Since February, Senator Tommy Tuberville has refused to confirm nominees, resulting in a stalemate.
The Pentagon reports that 265 nominations have been delayed due to this standoff, with the number potentially rising to over 650 by year-end if the blockade persists.
Senator Tuberville, representing Alabama, is protesting against a Pentagon policy that provides travel allowances and time off for military personnel seeking abortions.
On his website, Senator Tuberville, a former college football coach, characterizes the policy as “illegal taxpayer-funded abortions.”
However, he contends that the military positions he is blocking are not vacant as they are currently occupied on an acting basis.
In the absence of a confirmed commandant, General Eric Smith, the assistant commandant, will serve as the Acting Commandant of the Marine Corps.
President Joe Biden nominated him for promotion, and his confirmation hearing took place on June 13.
Abortion Protest: Senator Tuberville’s Blockade Leaves Marine Corps Acting Commandant with Dual Responsibilities
Due to the ongoing blockade by Senator Tuberville, General Eric Smith, the acting commandant of the Marine Corps, has been left with the additional responsibility of fulfilling two roles instead of one, according to the Defense Department.
Sabrina Singh, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary, informed reporters that “Two positions that require two different people to be in those roles will now be a dual-hatted position, which, of course, is going to impact the US Marine Corps.”
Until officially approved, the acting commandant lacks the authority to issue guidance on planning, policies, or implement significant changes. The positions can only be filled by those next in the chain of command.
Senator Tuberville’s actions have drawn criticism from both sides of the political spectrum.
Blockade of Military Appointments Raises Concerns over National Security and Operational Impact
“This blockade weakens our national security,” stated Senator Jack Reed, the Democratic chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “Every day it goes on, it has a more significant impact on operations within our military – all branches of our military.”
Mark Cancian, a former Marine Corps member, ex-Pentagon official, and current senior adviser at the think tank CSIS, explains the cascading effect of the blockade.
“Someone will move in behind him, and then someone in behind him. And there’s a whole domino effect that’s being held up.”
While Cancian finds the situation embarrassing, he disagrees with the Biden administration’s argument that the blockade jeopardizes national security.
He believes that the individuals currently serving in the roles are highly capable. However, he notes that if the blockade persists for an extended period, the situation may change.
Senator Tuberville remains resolute in his hold against nominations, expressing on the Senate floor that he believes “the Marine Corps is in good hands with General Smith.”
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