The Senate was expected on Wednesday to confirm three generals to serve on the president’s top military advisory council, steering around a monthslong blockade of military promotions by Senator Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, who has held up hundreds of nominees in protest of a Pentagon abortion access policy.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, moved on Wednesday to force votes on confirming Gen. Eric Smith of the Marine Corps and Gen. Randy George of the Army as the chiefs of staff for their respective services, and Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. of the Air Force as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But the move left hundreds more military promotions in limbo, still stymied by Mr. Tuberville’s objections.
Mr. Schumer had been reluctant to force votes on individual nominees for fear of being seen as capitulating to Mr. Tuberville. The Alabama senator has been blocking a large package of promotions of senior generals and admirals in an effort to force the Pentagon to reverse a policy, conceived after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and put into effect in March, of reimbursing service members who were required to travel to obtain abortion or fertility services.
“The Senate will overwhelmingly vote to confirm them, and these three honorable men will finally be able to assume their positions,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor. “And the abortion policy that Senator Tuberville abhors will remain in place. Senator Tuberville will have accomplished nothing.”
Mr. Tuberville said he would not object to their quick approvals, though he said he would not relent in his push to do away with the abortion access policy.
“They finally figured out I wasn’t going to give in,” Mr. Tuberville told reporters on Wednesday. “They got to do the right thing and move the policy back.”
Earlier this year, the Pentagon enacted a policy providing time off and travel reimbursement to service members needing to travel out of state to get an abortion or other forms of reproductive health services, in an effort to give troops equal access to such care regardless of where they are stationed.
Mr. Schumer has the power to bring up and try to force votes on each individual promotion, but doing so for the hundreds that are pending would take huge amounts of Senate floor time and had been a step he was unwilling to take. It was not immediately clear whether he would attempt to continue holding such votes in the future.