Skip to content
Sign up to receive our free weekday morning edition, and you'll never miss a scoop.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL)

The warring Senate GOP factions on the Tuberville blockade

News: Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) will circulate a memo ahead of the special GOP Conference meeting today that will outline his openness — or lack thereof — to some of the off-ramps floated both publicly and privately for ending his months-long military promotions blockade.

Monday night, for the first time, Tuberville added a caveat to his oft-stated pledge to keep his holds in place unless the Pentagon scraps its abortion policy: “Until we get a solution.”

“We’ll just have a conversation and see if anybody’s got any solutions,” Tuberville said. “Everybody’s interested in it now after nine months. Hopefully, we can come up with something that’ll work.”

We’re told that Tuberville is, in fact, open to different pathways to resolving the worsening standoff, which has reached a crisis point among Senate Republicans. But that doesn’t mean he’ll accept something that won’t eliminate or dramatically alter the Defense Department’s abortion policy. Put simply, Tuberville needs a win or he’s not backing down.

Republicans will meet privately at 3:30 p.m. as Democrats press ahead with a proposal that GOP senators oppose but may soon be forced to back.

This Democrat-led resolution would circumvent Tuberville’s blockade by allowing multiple promotions to be voted on at the same time. It’ll go through the Rules Committee next Tuesday, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he’ll put it on the floor.

The resolution will serve as the backdrop of the Republican confab today, which will feature three GOP factions.

1) Tuberville’s crew. It’s worth noting that despite the groundswell of GOP opposition over the past week, Tuberville isn’t alone here.

He’s still getting critical backup from Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), among others, who believe Tuberville is right to hold up military promotions over the abortion policy.

“He’ll have a friend in me in there,” Marshall said. “It’s a complicated issue, but at the end of the day, I believe in the sanctity of life. I think that’s the biggest issue here.”

2) The possible “yes” votes. The dam broke last week when Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) led a brutal takedown of Tuberville’s blockade on the Senate floor.

These are the senators who are among the relatively small universe of Republicans who could eventually back the Democratic-led resolution if it becomes clear that there’s no other option. These GOP senators are starting to lay the groundwork for this move, which would be controversial inside the party.

“The idea that somehow this [blockade] isn’t impacting readiness and morale in one of the most dangerous times we’ve faced in decades — nobody’s buying that,” Sullivan said Monday night.

Voting for the resolution — while not preferable — would be better than inflicting further damage to U.S. national security, these GOP senators reason. Many believe that while the resolution sets a bad precedent, Tuberville’s use of military promotions to achieve a policy aim is doing the same.

“We’ve got to solve the problem. I’m just not sure we need to do that yet,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), a member of GOP leadership, said of the resolution.

3) The institutionalists. There are many Republicans who believe anything even resembling a rules change sets a poor precedent that could be exploited by Democrats in the future.

They also fear this could dilute senators’ unique prerogatives such as placing holds on nominations, which senators do all the time — just not to the extent Tuberville is.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is among those wary of setting a new standard that weakens senators’ individual power, despite the fact that he has all but said Tuberville is abusing these privileges. McConnell has been reluctant to get too involved in the issue publicly. That could change today.

— Andrew Desiderio

Presented by Comcast

On Friday July 26th, the Olympic Games will return to their true glory. Comcast is proud to bring the Opening Ceremony live from the River Seine into millions of homes across the country. Learn more.

Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.