The decade's most triggering comedy
As Adm. Mike Gilday relinquished command of naval operations on Monday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a warning about the national security implications of being forced to rely on acting leadership.
“Because of this blanket hold, starting today, for the first time in the history of the Department of Defense, three of our military services are operating without Senate-confirmed leaders,” Lloyd said during a ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin: "Starting today for the first time in the history of the Department of Defense, three of our military services are operating without Senate confirmed leaders. This is unprecedented, it is unnecessary, and it is unsafe." pic.twitter.com/gkPfHbmyFt
— CSPAN (@cspan) August 14, 2023
“This is unprecedented, it is unnecessary, and it is unsafe,” he added before calling on the Senate to end the deadlock.
President Joe Biden nominated Adm. Lisa Franchetti to lead the Navy, but she took over command in an acting capacity on Monday, joining leaders stuck in similar positions heading the Marine Corps and the Army.
One more down as CNO Gilday relinquished command this morning.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said today this is the first time in DOD history three services are without a Senate-confirmed chief. pic.twitter.com/2tbO6A5Wry
— Haley Britzky (@halbritz) August 14, 2023
The bottleneck can be traced back to February, when Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) placed a “hold” on general and flag officer nominations in protest of a Pentagon policy allowing female service members expense-paid travel and up to three weeks leave for an elective abortion that he claims is illegal.
In upholding his stance, Tuberville has objected to allowing the Democrat-controlled Senate from quickly approving the nominations in batches through a “unanimous consent” agreement.
Despite pushback from the Pentagon and other lawmakers, Tuberville has denied that his hold is hurting military readiness and insisted that the upper chamber can still hold votes through regular order to approve individual nominations if necessary.
“Contrary to false reporting, no jobs are going unfilled while the hold is in place,” Tuberville spokesman Steven Stafford told media outlets in a statement. “Instead, highly experienced acting officials are serving in these roles.”
Democrats have reasoned that it would take too long to get through the backlog with individual votes.
“It would paralyze the Senate if all of us had to take one roll call vote after another just to confirm routine, apolitical, qualified generals and other flag officers,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in remarks earlier this year.
Hundreds of military confirmations have been held up so far, according to the Department of Defense.
One leader who could soon be caught up in the impasse is Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr., Biden’s nominee to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as Gen. Mark Milley’s term is set to expire in October.