Sen. Tommy Tuberville appears to be cracking under the pressure.
For more than nine months, Tuberville has blocked all military promotions – holding up more than 300 advancements and creating havoc within the military chain of command – as he protested a Department of Defense policy that reimburses service members for travel expenses they incur while receiving legal medical care, including abortions, in another state. As recently as last week, when he was honored by the Alabama Policy Institute, Tuberville had maintained that he had no intentions of ending his blockade.
But on Tuesday, after a closed-door meeting with Republican senators, Politico reported that Tuberville was planning to circulate a memo with potential avenues that would bring an end to his blocks.
The apparent change of heart for Tuberville comes as some senators, including some Republicans, were planning to push through a rules change that would have made it possible to approve the military promotions through a simple majority vote, rendering Tuberville’s objection irrelevant.
Following Tuesday’s meeting, and just a couple of hours after Tuberville told reporters that there was “zero chance” he’d lift his holds without a policy change, Tuberville said, “I want to get this over with.”
However, he indicated that he wouldn’t lift his holds without receiving something in return, and later on Tuesday he distributed a list of possible solutions that he’d accept to his GOP colleagues.
“We’ve got several things that we can do,” Tuberville said after the meeting. “I understand the urgency. I’m not just being hard-headed about this.”
Tuberville has drawn the ire of Democrats for months, and while several of his Republican colleagues fumed privately during that time, last week, their emotions began to bubble to the surface. In a rare show of public condemnation within the party, several senators took to the floor to openly criticize Tuberville and provide specific examples of the harm his holds were having on military readiness and morale.
As the senators attempted to approve military promotions one by one, Tuberville objected to all 61 brought up for a vote. Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan called it a “dark evening” and called Tuberville’s actions a “national security suicide mission.”