In the end, it was Tommy Tuberville who surrendered on a hill he couldn’t hold.
Ten months after his one-man blockade of all military promotions in protest of a Department of Defense policy that reimbursed military personnel for travel expenses for medical procedures, including abortions, Alabama’s senior senator on Tuesday announced he was ending it. There was no change in the policy.
Despite failing to accomplish his goal, Tuberville declared his efforts “a draw.”
“They didn’t get what they wanted and we didn’t get what we wanted,” Tuberville told reporters. It’s unclear what “they” wanted, aside from Tuberville to lift his holds and allow some 400-plus military promotions to move forward.
“It’s hard to win when they change the rules,” Tuberville said. “It’s a shame the American people didn’t get a voice.”
The American people were overwhelmingly against Tuberville’s actions. While he enjoyed some support from far-right voters, polling showed the majority of Americans – including a majority of Republicans – were not in favor of punishing military personnel over a political matter.
“These confirmations are long overdue, and should never have been held up in the first place,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “Our service members are the backbone of our country and deserve to receive the pay and promotions they have earned. In the end, this was all pointless. Senator Tuberville, and the Republicans who stood with him, needlessly hurt hundreds of servicemembers and military families and threatened our national security – all to push a partisan agenda. I hope no one forgets what he did.”
Tuberville isn’t quite finished with the holds, however. While he allowed more than 400 to go through, he said he still plans to force individual votes on 14 4-star generals.
That plan was crafted by Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, who have been the leaders of a Republican effort to get Tuberville to end his holds.
Republican Party officials believed the lingering blockade was causing harm to the party as more and more Americans saw it as damaging to military readiness and enlisted personnel began to speak out against it more regularly.