Sen. Tommy Tuberville signed on to a bill that would grant back pay to the military officers whose promotions he held up for 10 months.
Alabama’s senior senator, who put holds on hundreds of officers over Defense Department policies on abortion, backed down from his stand this week, allowing more than 400 officers to be promoted.
Under the Military Personnel Confirmation Restoration Act, sponsored by Republcan Sens. Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Marco Rubio of Florida, the officers would be entitled to back pay and their promotions would be retroactive to 30 days after President Biden submitted their nominations to the Senate, reported Andrew Desiderio of Punchbowl News.
About 14 four-star officers’ promotions are still on hold. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., urged Tuberville to lift the holds on all the nominees, claiming the standstill “hurt America.”
Tuberville began the blockade back in February in response to the Pentagon’s policy of allowing travel expenses to military members seeking abortions in states where it remains legal. In recent weeks, Republicans in the Senate had grown more critical of the hold, saying it was affecting readiness.
Democrats were pushing for a rule change to allow the promotions to go forward in one block.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said the issue was beginning to roil the Republicans between those who supported Tuberville and others who were concerned at how the blockade was impacting morale.
“There were a number of people who were attacking those of us who were trying to find an actual solution… as not being conservative enough,” Ernst said. “We are some of the most pro-life senators. We were trying to find a way to reverse the policy and not impact our military readiness.
“That’s what bothered so many of us, is that we’re holding 450 (nominees) at this point that had nothing to do with the policy. Nobody can tell me that’s the right thing to do.”
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