Saturday, November 04, 2023


I'm tried of reading stories like this:
Republicans have had it with Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s nine-month blockade of military promotions. And after publicly putting pressure on the Alabama Republican to lift his hold on hundreds of officers, GOP senators are plotting new ways to break the impasse.
"New ways"? Such as?
During a special meeting planned for next week, some will ask Tuberville to focus his obstruction on only the Pentagon’s civilian nominees and not uniformed officers who have nothing to do with the policy he’s protesting.
Asking him nicely to make some exceptions? It hasn't worked for nine months, but I'm totally sure it'll work now.
Others want to shift the fight to the courts to challenge the policy at the center of the hold, which reimburses troops who have to travel to obtain abortions and other reproductive services.
The blockade is Tuberville's ego trip and the reason he's the most famous freshman senator in America. Why would he agree to this? And wouldn't the promotions proceed while the case worked its way through the courts? He'll consider this an absolute non-starter.

We're expected to believe that Republicans are extremely frustrated:
The deadlock reached a dramatic and very public phase when a cadre of GOP senators confronted Tuberville on the Senate floor Wednesday night, blaming the Alabama lawmaker’s blanket hold for weakening the military at a precarious moment for the world.

The four-hour-plus event, which forced Tuberville to object to votes on 61 nominees, marked a pivotal moment for Republicans....

“I think what it says about where things are is Tommy’s losing support,” Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said of the Republican-on-Republican fight. “And you’re seeing the frustration build up because the consequences are building up.”
But however angry they are, apparently there aren't nine Republicans angry enough to end this once and for all:
The Democrats, meanwhile, have their own plan. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday announced he’ll push for a vote on Armed Services Chair Jack Reed’s (D-R.I.) resolution to allow military promotions to be confirmed in packages....

Schumer intends to move the resolution — which Reed and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) helped devise to get around Tuberville — after it clears the Senate Rules Committee. But Democrats need at least nine Republicans to join them to meet the 60-vote threshold to advance the measure on the Senate floor.

... there’s strong opposition among Republicans to what they see as tampering with the chamber’s rules, especially if it erodes the ability of a single senator to pump the brakes on a nominee or a piece of legislation.

“Senators have a right to place a hold on a nominee or on a bill, and I’m not going to vote to do anything to undermine it — and I would urge my colleagues not to do anything to undermine it, because it is a double-edged sword,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). “Ninety-nine percent of holds get worked out.”
But surely members of the Republican Party's "governing wing" will do the right thing for the sake of national security ... won't they? Apparently not:
Any vote to go around Tuberville’s hold on the hundreds of other frozen nominations is probably weeks away, as it still needs to go through the committee process. Many Republican senators have rejected the idea, however, saying they believe it could weaken lawmakers’ power to stall nominations in the future.

“I’m not for a rule change,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), “because I think we see around here that once precedent is set for a rule change then it’s a slippery slope to other changes, which I think threatens the institution.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), a moderate Republican who Democrats often seek out for bipartisan efforts, said Wednesday that she, too, is “cautious” about any vote that overturns the Senate’s rules, even as she remains concerned about the impact of Tuberville’s hold.
Lisa Murkowski is concerned! Her Susan Collins imitation is impressive.

Tuberville thinks the unanimous-consent rule is in the Constitution.
“They’d rather blow up the Senate than go with the Constitution,” he said of the resolution’s backers....
It isn't. The present-day use of unanimous consent in the Senate dates back only to the 1950s.

What Democrats are proposing is quite limited:
As they look to get Republicans on board, advocates underscored that the proposal is a “standing order” that would permit the bundling of most military nominees just for the remainder of the Congress through next year — not a permanent change to Senate rules.

They also contend the tweak would actually preserve senators’ prerogative to hold or filibuster nominees. Under the proposal, they would be holding up blocs, not individuals.

“That still allows someone to use their time to delay that vote, to oppose everyone in a batch if they want, but it would not require hundreds and hundreds of individual floor debates and votes, which is what Sen. Tuberville is trying to do,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said.
But it's still a struggle to get Republicans on board. And yet polls consistently show that Americans think Democrats are less "mainstream" than the GOP.


Slate's Fred Kaplan writes about the Tuberville blockade here. He suggests a rule change requiring three senators for any blockade. That seems reasonable, which means it would never get nine GOP votes.

But I want to comment about this portion of Kaplan's piece:
In various interviews, Tuberville has defined the three branches of government as the House, the Senate, and the Executive. He has said that the United States fought World War II “to free Europe of socialism.” He has denounced the Navy for being “too woke,” saying, “We’ve got people doing poems on aircraft carriers.” Asked in an interview on a Birmingham radio station whether white nationalists should be allowed to serve in the military, he replied, “Well, they call them that—I call them Americans.”

In short, Tuberville can in no way be regarded as a serious figure.
But Tuberville is a serious figure. He's a serious figure because he recognizes the power he has and he's using it effectively.

Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, George Santos -- they're not serious figures. They're clowns and showboaters, but they don't have any political accomplishments. Yes, Tuberville is ignorant. Yes, what he's doing is dangerous and destructive. But it's working. That means he's a serious figure. In some ways, he's a more serious figure than many Democrats who'd do a lot better on a Civics final than he would, but who have never aggressively used the power that's available to them. I don't want any more Tommy Tubervilles in government, but Democrats could learn something from him.

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