Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama faces escalating condemnation over his “hold” on military promotions and nominations, which a veterans group warns will set a “dangerous precedent” of using U.S. service members as political pawns.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), the largest and oldest veterans service organization in the country, featuring more than 1.5 million members, sent Tuberville a letter on Monday, calling on him to “lift his hold on the routine promotion of military generals and flag officers.”
VFW Commander-in-Chief Duane Sarmiento also took aim at Tuberville, saying in a statement that the Republican’s actions will “take years to fix.”
“The line in the sand for the VFW is simple: Political disputes must be handled by politicians, not within the ranks of the all-volunteer force,” Sarmiento said. “Sen. Tuberville’s hold on these routine promotions has consequences up and down the active-duty force that will take years to fix. By sending this letter, the VFW is making our voice very clear—this is not the way Congress should do business.”
Newsweek reached out via email on Monday night to representatives for Tuberville and the VFW for comment.
Mounting criticism has been leveled against Tuberville as he continues his months-long block of promotions and nominations within the Department of Defense (DoD). The Republican has previously said that his opposition is in protest of the Pentagon‘s policies on abortion access for service members.
Tuberville has said that the Pentagon’s abortion policy violates the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortions except for circumstances in which the procedure would save the mother’s life or in cases of incest or rape.
Tuberville’s actions have been condemned by Pentagon officials and President Joe Biden as well as the senator’s colleagues on the Armed Services Committee. Confirming military nominations requires a unanimous vote from all committee members, giving Tuberville veto power. The senator’s opponents say he is putting national security at risk and punishing military families as he has blocked hundreds of promotions.
VFW had a warning for Tuberville in the letter to the senator, saying that the Republican’s “hold” on military promotions will have “far-reaching consequences,” Ryan Gallucci, executive director of the VFW’s Washington office, wrote.
“I write to call on you to lift your hold on the routine promotion of U.S. military generals and flag officers,” Gallucci said. “One of the VFW’s top national security priorities is preserving the all-volunteer force. At a time of military recruiting challenges, the instability caused by this hold will have far-reaching consequences for the brave Americans who volunteer to serve in today’s military and those who may consider future military service. The VFW called on the Senate to resolve this matter earlier this summer and now we call on you directly to end this hold before we set the very dangerous precedent of harming American service members as leverage in Washington political battles.”
Sarmiento said that as of Monday, the Army, Navy and Marine Corps don’t have confirmed heads of service in addition to “hundreds” of other routine promotions that have also been stalled due to Tuberville’s refusal to allow confirmations to proceed without “unnecessary bureaucratic procedures.”