Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Dems eye ‘creative’ solution to Tuberville’s military blockade

by admin
Dems eye ‘creative’ solution to Tuberville’s military blockade

Sen. Tommy Tuberville has insisted that his blanket hold against U.S. military promotions, part of a larger anti-abortion tantrum, isn’t actually hurting the Pentagon. Leaders in the Department of Defense, meanwhile, keep insisting otherwise.

But the concerns are not limited to the Pentagon. Punchbowl News reported on some rather pointed remarks from Sen. Chris Murphy, who has come to believe that the right-wing Alabama Republican doesn’t intend to relent.

“Tuberville is not going to back down,” the Connecticut Democrat said. “He thinks he’s become a celebrity folk hero for the fringe right. … He’s having the time of his life.”

There’s evidence to suggest that’s true. Tuberville tends to avoid lengthy interviews with independent news organizations, but the right-wing senator routinely speaks with conservative outlets, where he boasts about his radical scheme. Just this week, Tuberville appeared on Fox News to pat himself on the back and insist he’d continue to block his own country’s military personnel.

Murphy was not impressed.

“Everybody has been hoping that Tuberville would back down. We have to come to the conclusion that that is not happening and that he is prepared to burn the military down,” Murphy said. … “We have to start thinking creatively about how to break this logjam. … If you want the military to function, you’re going to have to find a creative way to get around this guy.”

The fact that a sitting senator accused one of his colleagues of being willing to “burn the military down” was certainly provocative, but given the circumstances, it’s not too surprising that Murphy’s comments received little GOP pushback.

As for possible solutions, if Tuberville is content to ignore U.S. military leaders, veterans, every living former secretary of Defense, congressional Democrats, the White House, miliary spouses, and his own Republican colleagues, what more can be done?

As it turns out, Murphy told reporters yesterday that he’s envisioning a possible temporary change to the Senate’s rules that would allow members to circumvent the Alabaman’s blockade and bolster the armed forces.

An Axios report added, “Senate GOP leaders have expressed frustrations about [Tuberville’s] tactic, with one senior Republican source telling Axios there are strong concerns about it sparking a rules change and damaging the institution.”

So, will senators agree to resolve the problem by going around their right-wing colleague? Maybe, but the Punchbowl News report added that top Senate Democrats “have said that if the rules are changed to go around Tuberville, even temporarily, this could encourage other senators to resort to the same tactics in the future.”

What’s even less clear is how long all of this can be expected to continue. It’ll be a month before members return to Capitol Hill from their summer break, but it’s not as if Tuberville will suddenly become more mature and reasonable after Labor Day. On the contrary, the Republican appears ready to impose an indefinite blockade.

I realize senators are loath to create new exceptions to their arcane rules, but will they continue to allow Tuberville to undermine the interests of his own country’s military into the fall? How about the winter? What if his blockade continues for the remainder of the current Congress, leaving the armed forces in difficult straits for the next year and a half?

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer for “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the editor of MaddowBlog and an MSNBC political contributor. He’s also the bestselling author of “The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics.”

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