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Top U.S. military leader must step down as Sen. Tuberville continues blocking replacement

Republican U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. (John Sharp/

Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s hold on military nominations means the Biden Administration won’t be able to permanently replace a top leader in the Marine Corps who is required by law to leave his post on Monday.

Commandant Gen. David Berger must step down Monday from his four-year tour, a term of service that cannot be extended unless the U.S. is at war or in the event of a national emergency.

President Joe Biden nominated Gen. Eric Smith to replace Berger. But for now Smith’s appointment will be on a temporary basis, as Tuberville, Alabama’s senior Senator, has placed a hold on all Defense Department appointments.

Spokespeople for Sen. Tuberville did not respond to a request for comment Sunday.

The senator placed the hold on nominations in mid-February in response to the Department announcing policies to give assistance for service members seeking abortions. The policies allow them to request administrative absence for “non-covered reproductive health services,” including elective abortions and IVF, for themselves of their partners. The policies also offer transportation allowances for travel to states that offer abortions.

Other top military positions are slated to become vacant soon and could be impacted if Tuberville’s continues his blockade of appointments.

Speaking about his hold on the appointments in February, Sen. Tuberville said he would hold all officer nominations unless Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin seeks Congressional permission for abortion services for service members.

“This is an illegal expansion of DoD authority and gross misuse of taxpayer dollars— and I will hold him accountable. The American people want a military focused on national defense, not facilitating a progressive political agenda,” Tuberville said in a statement to Fox News in February.

In June, the White House called Sen. Tuberville’s hold on military nominations a “threat to national security,” and said his position is risking military readiness and harming military families.

The Senator has disagreed. He tweeted in June that he does not believe the situation is preventing military officials from doing their jobs.

“All of these jobs are being done,” he said.


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