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Sen. Confirms Chairman of Joint Chiefs 09/21 06:17


   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Gen. CQ Brown as the 
next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, putting him in place to succeed 
Gen. Mark Milley when he retires at the end of the month.

   Brown's confirmation on a 83-11 vote, months after President Joe Biden 
nominated him for the post, comes as Democrats try to maneuver around holds 
placed on hundreds of nominations by Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville over the 
Pentagon's abortion policy. The Senate is also expected to confirm Gen. Randy 
George to be Army Chief of Staff and Gen. Eric Smith as commandant of the U.S. 
Marine Corps this week.

   Tuberville has been blocking the Senate from the routine process of 
approving military nominations in groups, frustrating Democrats who had said 
they would not go through the time-consuming process of bringing up individual 
nominations for a vote. More than 300 nominees are still stalled amid 
Tuberville's blockade, and confirming them one-by-one would take months.

   But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., reversed course on 
Wednesday and moved to force votes on Brown, George and Smith.

   "Senator Tuberville is forcing us to face his obstruction head on," Schumer 
said. "I want to make clear to my Republican colleagues -- this cannot 

   Tuberville did not object to the confirmation votes, saying he will maintain 
his holds but is fine with bringing up nominations individually for roll call 

   White House national security spokesman John Kirby said that Brown's 
confirmation, along with expected votes on Smith and George, is positive news. 
But "we should have never been in this position," he said.

   "While good for these three officers, it doesn't fix the problem or provide 
a path forward for the 316 other general and flag officers that are held up by 
this ridiculous hold," Kirby told reporters.

   Brown, a career fighter pilot, was the Air Force's first Black commander of 
the Pacific Air Forces and most recently its first Black chief of staff, making 
him the first African American to lead any of the military branches. His 
confirmation will also mark the first time the Pentagon's top two posts were 
held by African Americans, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin as the top 
civilian leader.

   In a statement late Wednesday, Austin said Brown would be a "tremendous 
leader" as the new chairman.

   Brown, 60, replaces Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley, who is 
retiring after four decades in military service. Milley's four-year term as 
chairman ends on Sept. 30.

   Tuberville said on Wednesday that he will continue to hold up the other 
nominations unless the Pentagon ends its policy of paying for travel when a 
service member has to go out of state to get an abortion or other reproductive 
care. The Biden administration instituted the policy after the Supreme Court 
overturned the nationwide right to an abortion and some states have limited or 
banned the procedure.

   "Let's do one at a time or change the policy back," Tuberville said after 
Schumer put the three nominations up for a vote. "Let's vote on it."

   In an effort to force Tuberville's hand, Democrats had said they would not 
bring up the most senior nominees while the others were still stalled. "There's 
an old saying in the military, leave no one behind," Senate Armed Services 
Chairman Jack Reed said in July.

   But in a frustrated speech on the Senate floor, Schumer said Wednesday he 
was left with no other choice.

   "Senator Tuberville is using them as pawns," Schumer said of the nominees.

   The votes come as a host of military officers have spoken out about the 
damage of the delays for service members. While Tuberville's holds are focused 
on all general and flag officers, they carry career impacts on the military's 
younger rising officers. Until each general or admiral is confirmed, it blocks 
an opportunity for a more junior officer to rise.

   That affects pay, retirement, lifestyle and future assignments -- and in 
some fields where the private sector will pay more, it becomes harder to 
convince those highly trained young leaders to stay.

   "Senator Tuberville's continued hold on hundreds of our nation's military 
leaders endangers our national security and military readiness. It is well past 
time to confirm the over 300 other military nominees," Austin said, noting he 
would "continue to personally engage with members of Congress in both parties 
until all of these well-qualified, apolitical officers are confirmed."

   Tuberville said he has not talked to Austin since July about the holds.

   The blockade has frustrated members on both sides of the aisle, and it is 
still unclear how the larger standoff will be resolved. Schumer did not say if 
he will put additional nominations on the floor.

   The monthslong holds have devolved into a convoluted procedural back and 
forth in recent days.

   Tuberville claimed victory after Schumer's move, even though the Pentagon 
policy remains unchanged.

   "We called them out, and they blinked," he told reporters of Schumer.

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