With Israel at war, Tuberville urged anew to give up holds on military nominees – Pennsylvania Capital-Star

WASHINGTON — The chair of the Senate Committee on Armed Services is again applying pressure on Sen. Tommy Tuberville as the Alabama Republican plans to continue stalling hundreds of military promotions, including top Navy and Air Force leaders, amid deadly attacks on Israel that killed hundreds over the weekend.

Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, said Monday Tuberville is refusing to ensure that “seamless military leadership (is) in place during dangerous situations like this,” according to a statement provided to States Newsroom.

Israel, a key U.S. ally in the region, is now in a full-fledged war with Hamas militants, and the Pentagon is moving resources to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and launching security assistance.

Tuberville has been blocking unanimous Senate approval of the military nominees in protest of a Department of Defense policy that grants leave and travel allowances for service members seeking abortions in areas of the country where it remains legal.

Among the military promotions blocked by Tuberville are Admiral Lisa Franchetti, the first woman nominated to lead the U.S. Navy, and General David W. Allvin, nominee to be the next Air Force chief of staff.

“The hold will remain in place until Democrats follow the law or change the law,” Tuberville’s spokesperson Steven Stafford said in an emailed statement Monday.

Tuberville maintains the Department of Defense policy is illegal. The Pentagon and Biden administration categorically refute that claim.

“The severity of the crisis in Israel underscores the foolishness of Senator Tuberville’s blockade,” Reed said.

“This is no time for petty political theater, and I again urge Republican colleagues to help actively end Senator Tuberville’s damaging blockade. The time for talking is over.”

U.S. to support Israel

The Palestinian militant group Hamas launched air and ground attacks on multiple Israeli cities and villages Saturday in the largest assault on the nation in 50 years. Israel declared war on Hamas Sunday.

The death toll from the conflict reached into the hundreds Monday.

Eleven Americans were among the deceased and others were unaccounted for, according to the Biden administration.

The administration believes that Americans are likely among those being held by Hamas, President Joe Biden said in a statement Monday.

“I have directed my team to work with their Israeli counterparts on every aspect of the hostage crisis, including sharing intelligence and deploying experts from across the United States government to consult with and advise Israeli counterparts on hostage recovery efforts,” Biden said.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin directed the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean. The group includes the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford and the guided missile cruiser USS Normandy, as well as three guided missile destroyers.

Austin also said the Pentagon is augmenting U.S. Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region.

“The U.S. maintains ready forces globally to further reinforce this deterrence posture if required,” Austin said in a statement Sunday.

“In addition, the United States government will be rapidly providing the Israel Defense Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions. The first security assistance will begin moving today and arriving in the coming days.”

Multiple Navy command nominees are stuck in the Senate, as detailed by Defense News in September.

Among them is Rear Adm. George Wikoff, nominee to lead the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and surrounding areas. Vice Admiral Brad Cooper has remained in his role leading the fleet for now, a Pentagon spokesperson told States Newsroom Monday.

DoD abortion policy

The Pentagon announced the policy on abortion and other non-covered reproductive care in February, about seven months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion, triggering multiple states to severely restrict or ban the practice.

In September 2022, the RAND Corporation, a think tank that has historically produced defense research, released a study showing that 80,000 active-duty female troops are based in states where legislatures enacted full or partial bans.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office did not respond for comment on whether Senate Republicans are increasing pressure on Tuberville to release the holds.

Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Ashley Murray

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