ICYMI: Warren Ramps Up Pressure for Senate to Confirm Military Nominations, Calls out Reckless and Dangerous Republican Holds
Warren: “Holding up the promotions of every single senior military nominee isn’t democracy; it’s extortion and that kind of extortion has serious consequences for our national defense and military readiness.”
Washington, D.C. — In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, delivered remarks and asked for 35 unanimous consent requests on the Senate floor calling for the confirmation of 184 top-level military nominations that Republicans, led by Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), have been blocking.
Senator Warren made a series of Unanimous Consent requests to confirm key military nominations held up by Republicans’ unacceptable and dangerous political posturing. During her exchange on the Senate floor, Senator Warren highlighted the risks to national security generated by Senator Tuberville’s reckless holds.
Watch Senator Warren’s opening remarks HERE:
Remarks as prepared for delivery
Mr. President, most people are aware that the Senate votes on nominees who have been appointed by the President to occupy top roles in almost all parts of the federal government—cabinet secretaries, judges, and ambassadors.
Less well known is the fact that the Senate must also vote to approve thousands of military promotions each year. If a colonel has done well on the job and their service’s promotion board decides they’re ready to be a brigadier general, the Senate must vote to approve this promotion before it can go through. Typically, the vote is a formality. These promotions are processed in big batches rather than one at a time, and they usually happen without even taking a recorded vote.
But right now the Senator from Alabama has imposed a hold on ALL senior military nominations and promotions. That means one senator is personally
- standing in the way of promotions for more than 184 of our top-level military leaders,
- holding up pay raises for men and women in uniform,
- blocking key senior military leaders from taking their posts, and
- jeopardizing America’s national security
Think about what this looks like – these holds deprive military families of pay increases they have earned because a nominee’s new pay may not take effect until the promotion goes through. Without formally being assigned a change of duty, families can’t make decisions about moving or enrolling kids at a new school year for the fall.
The Chief of Staff of the Army has said, “What it really does, it affects the families and some of the kids and they're trying to figure out where they're going to go to school, when they're going to move. And all those things kind of come into the readiness of the force.” And Secretary Austin has stated this delay “creates a ripple effect through the force that makes us far less ready than we need to be.”
Why is one senator punishing 184 dedicated men and women who serve in our military? All because he disagrees personally with a single policy decision from the Pentagon.
It’s no secret I disagree with a lot of policy decisions from the Pentagon. And as senators, we have many tools to shape and influence government policies—tools we can use without putting our national defense at risk. We can pass laws. We can conduct oversight. We can meet with administration officials. We can hold hearings.
Occasionally, a Senator may object to an individual nomination, usually to indicate opposition to that appointment or to insist on answers to questions from a federal agency. I have done this in the past, as have many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
The Senator from Alabama isn’t doing that. Instead, he’s blocking every single top military leader from advancing, indefinitely. He’s snared all 184 active duty servicemembers who are currently slated for advancement and stopped every one of them dead in their tracks.
Like me, the Senator from Alabama serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee. As a consequence, he has many more opportunities than most witnesses to influence DoD policy. Many more opportunities to question witnesses, receive briefings, and to influence the annual defense bill Congress passes every single year to govern Pentagon operations. Many opportunities that don’t actively threaten our national security.
He also hasn’t raised any individual objections to the 184 servicemembers whose promotions are now backed up in the Senate. And he has not raised any objections to the process by which these men and women were vetted and nominated.
No, the senator is blocking 184 military promotions because he disagrees with a Department of Defense policy to help service members and their families access needed health care—specifically, to travel to access abortion care.
I disagree with him on that issue. But If he wants to press for votes to reverse DoD’s health care policies, he can do that. I will oppose him, but if I lose, and Congress changes the law, then DoD will change its policies. That’s how democracy works.
Holding up the promotions of every single military nominee isn’t democracy; it’s extortion, and that kind of extortion has serious consequences for our national defense. These holds pose a grave threat to our national security and military readiness. They actively hurt our ability to respond quickly to threats around the world.
Among the 184 nominations that the Senator from Alabama has blocked are the nominations for –
- the next commander of the U.S. 5th Fleet in the Middle East;
- the next commander of the 7th Fleet in the Pacific;
- our next military representative to NATO;
- And the current Director of Intelligence for U.S. Cyber Command;
- Our next Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration for the Air Force
- A top official in Birmingham’s Army Reserves.
- And the former chief of staff for Operation Warp Speed, a program the Senator from Alabama has repeatedly credited for saving millions of Americans lives.
In fact, the Senator from Alabama is single-handedly holding up eleven three-star commanders, three recipients of Silver Stars, and three Purple Heart recipients. These are brave servicemembers who deserve better than to be stuck in an administrative hell—waiting for a single senator to release them to the promotions and assignments military leaders have determined that they have earned.
The Defense Department has warned that these blanket holds are making the United States more vulnerable to threats from foreign actors like China, North Korea, and Iran.
In coming months, approximately 80 three- and four- star generals and admirals, including leaders in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, will reach the end of their current terms—and new nominees will be slotted to replace them. In addition, if the senator’s reckless hold is not lifted and the Senate cannot confirm a new Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the President may be without a principal military advisor. By the end of the year we could have 650 general and flag officers waiting for Senate confirmation.
The senator from Alabama’s response to criticisms of his actions is to say that he’ll keep these holds in place “until hell freezes over” unless DoD changes its healthcare travel policy.
I sincerely hope that’s not true. Because holding hostage nearly the entire military leadership of the United States of America at a time when we are facing military threats around the world and our allies are literally engaged in war in Europe is dangerous, it’s reckless, and it needs to stop right now.
As Chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, I care deeply about protecting our servicemembers and the integrity of our promotion system. These holds are depriving families of pay raises they earned. We’re talking about gas and grocery money for families. These servicemembers should be treated with dignity and respect. And unless there is some specific problem with an individual nominee, those who have been nominated for a new rank or a new post should get the advancement that the Pentagon has recommended for them. No more politics.
I’m here today to respectfully ask my colleague from Alabama to let these promotions move forward and to find other ways to continue advocating for the policy changes that he wants to see. I’m hopeful he will set aside politics and do the right thing and allow these servicemembers to carry out their responsibilities to our nation.
Senator Warren Unanimous Consent Requests as Prepared
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 90. If confirmed, this nominee would be America’s military representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization military committee. This Boston University graduate was the first woman to serve as president of the Naval War College. At this critical juncture of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine we need her leadership in NATO more than ever. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the consideration of Calendar Number 90, that the Senate vote on the nomination, without intervening action or debate; that if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate; that any statements related to the nomination be printed in the Record; that the President be immediately notified of the Senate's action.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 84. If confirmed, this nominee would command the 5th fleet, which operates in the Middle East. Last year this fleet prevented an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy vessel from confiscating a 5th Fleet unmanned surface vessel in the Arabian Gulf. If we want to ensure that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard doesn’t take other U.S. assets in the region we cannot possibly support leaving this command post vacant.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 49. He was the chief of staff for Operation Warp Speed, one of the greatest achievements of the Trump administration to rapidly develop, test, and distribute lifesaving COVID vaccines. We should all be grateful for his leadership, not hold up his promotion to play political games.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 113. If confirmed he would be the Commander for Naval Sea Systems Command, which manages 150 acquisition programs and billions of dollars in foreign military sales. This role is critical to make sure the Navy gets the ships they need on time and on cost, holding it up only hurts great power competition with China.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 82. These 27 Air Force nominees have collectively served their country for over 600 years. Among the nominees is a NASA astronaut who received his masters degree from MIT and who commanded NASA’s third longest-duration commercial crew mission.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 85. If confirmed, this nominee would command the 7th fleet, which operates in the Pacific and is the Navy’s largest forward deployed fleet. If our country wants to check Chinese aggression, we must ensure this post is filled with strong and capable leadership.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 47. If confirmed, this nominee would be the Commanding General for US Army Space and Missile Defense Command and US Army Forces Strategic Command. This nominee has held air and missile defense assignments throughout the Middle East, the Indo-Pacific and Europe. America needs someone with this kind of experience to be confirmed for this post.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 97. Collectively these 16 nominees have served in the Navy for more than 400 years. Among these nominees is an MIT graduate who has served as the commander of the U.S.S. Gerald Ford, the first new aircraft carrier class we’ve built in over 40 years. He has logged 2,600 hours in 22 different aircraft, and he is eager to serve his country.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 46. This nominee studied at the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force base in Alabama and currently serves as Commander of the 10th Medical Group, and Command Surgeon for the United States Air Force Academy. Leaders like her ensure the health and readiness of our military.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 83. This nominee studied at the Squadron Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, as well as the Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College in Alabama. Alabama has invested a lot in her so that she’s now capable and ready to serve as the Chief of Staff for Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. She should be confirmed.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 48. If confirmed, she would serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for the Army’s G-4, which is responsible for the Army’s strategy, policy, plans, and programming for logistics and sustainment. If we want to be ready to fight we need to confirm her promotion.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 50. Collectively these two women have served in the Army for over 60 years. They deserve to be promoted.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 51. If confirmed he would serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration for the Air Force. As we contend with Russia’s reckless threats to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine and China rising as a nuclear power we need sober and expert advice to keep Americans safe from the threat of nuclear weapons.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 52. If confirmed this nominee would be the Military Deputy and Director for the Army Acquisition Corps. The Army is not only leading in modernizing our own forces, they’re playing an essential role in making sure Ukraine has all of the munitions and weapons for victory against Russia. We cannot allow this post to become vacant.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 86. Collectively these 11 nominees have over 275 years of service in the Air Force. Among these nominees is the commander of the 439th airlift wing at Westover Air Reserve Base in Massachusetts, the largest Air Reserve base in the country.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 87. Collectively these two nominees have served the Air Force for over 55 years. One of the nominees currently serves as mobilization assistant to the command surgeon for Air Combat Command, which is responsible for the health of 81,000 active-duty and civilian personnel. The holds imposed by the Senator from Alabama are punishing the people who make sure those who serve are healthy enough to combat any threat to U.S. national security.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 88. Collectively these 10 nominees have served over 280 years and with nearly 20,000 flying hours of experience. These nominees include a special operations forces commander, a mobilization assistant to the commander responsible for training 293,000 students per year, and another mobilization assistant to the commander of Space Operations command. I know how important space operations are for the Senator from Alabama, I can’t believe he’s willing to jeopardize these essential missions to train and lead our forces.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 89. This nominee is currently commanding the largest Army command in the Caribbean. That promotion was particularly significant for him personally because he’s from Puerto Rico. During his promotion ceremony he said that he assumed the command quote “fully aware of the dire consequences to our Nation and our freedom if we fail to sustain a high level of readiness in a world in which security challenges are becoming more complex.” Blocking his promotion only exacerbates those security challenges.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 91. This nominee is currently serving in Birmingham, Alabama as the Chief of Staff, United States Army Reserve Deployment Support Command. This is a constituent of the Senator from Alabama who can’t receive the promotion he deserves.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 92. This nominee is currently the Director for Joint Reserve Intelligence Support Element for Europe and Eurasia for the Defense Intelligence Agency, helping to make sure Ukraine and our allies in Europe have the critical national security information they need to be victorious on the battlefield. Yet she can’t receive the promotion she deserves because the Senator from Alabama is playing politics with women’s healthcare.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 93. This nominee is currently the deputy commander for support for providing security assistance to Ukraine. He’s doing everything he can to make sure Ukraine defeats Russia, yet the Senator from Alabama is making sure he doesn’t advance to the promotion he’s clearly earned.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 95. Collectively these eight nominees have served in the Marine Corps for over 200 years. They deserve their promotions.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 96. Collectively these nominees have served the Navy for over 55 years. Both are currently serving in the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, making them responsible for the health and safety of sailors, Marines, and their families. The pandemic has already driven so many skilled healthcare professionals out of the workforce, we need to retain and promote these kinds of professionals to continue to protect the readiness of our forces.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 98. Collectively these two nominees have served the Navy for 55 years. Both nominees are making sure the Navy has the supplies needed to be ready and lethal, including one currently serving as the chief of staff for Navy logistics that supports our fleet in the Pacific. A mother of three, she’s fought to make sure the Navy is supporting the other mothers who serve. The Department has done the right thing to support women’s rights, while the Senator from Alabama is fighting to take those rights away.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 99. These two nominees have collectively served the Navy for over 60 years. Both nominees have extensive experience managing our major weapon systems programs, and this promotion would place one of them in charge of aircraft carrier programs. Making sure our weapons work and enhance security is one of the most important missions and we need to retain that experience if we want to keep Americans safe. The Senator from Alabama’s actions threaten to drive people like these nominees out of the military.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 100. This nominee is currently serving as the director of health and training at the Defense Health Agency, and is a recognized Diplomate of the American Board of General Dentistry. If he’s confirmed he will be the deputy chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Our service members deserve the best healthcare we can deliver, promoting people like this nominee ensures we uphold the highest standard of care.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 101. If confirmed, this nominee will be the commander of Naval Supply Systems Command, which makes sure the Navy has everything they need to serve around the world. The Rear Admiral, who helped Americans understand the importance of naval power to national security, put it best when he said that logistics was quote “as vital to military success as daily food is to daily work.” The Senator from Alabama’s actions are depriving our Navy of the leadership the Navy counts on so they will reliably have the tools they need to succeed militarily.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 102. These 13 nominees have collectively served in the Navy for over 400 years. These nominees include multiple commanders of carrier strike groups, including one born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Another nominee is the deputy director of Special Operations and Counterterrorism for the Joint Staff. If confirmed one nominee would command the Naval Surface Force, which is responsible for manning, training, and equipping the entire surface force. If my colleagues want to protect the seas and fight terrorists, they should not stand in the way of these promotions.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 103. This nominee is currently the executive assistant for the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. If we want to continue to make sure the United States has the best information about current and future threats we should confirm people like this, not hold up the promotion they deserve.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 104. These two nominees have collectively served the Navy for over 55 years. One nominee is currently serving as information warfare commander for Carrier Strike Group Five in Yokosuka, Japan. The other is the chief of staff for U.S. fleet cyber command and the 10th fleet. As we continue to see warfare expand to the information and cyber domains we need to promote Navy captains like this.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 105. These four nominees have collectively served the Navy for over 100 years. They include a Boston University graduate managing the Navy’s new frigate program and the commander of America’s shipyard in Norfolk. The Senator from Alabama knows better than most how much work we need to do to reach the Navy’s shipbuilding goals, blocking the promotions of the very people working to make sure we have the ships we need to protect the global commons only endangers national security.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 106. Collectively, these two nominees have served the Air Force for 65 years. One of the nominees earned her nursing degree at Boston College to rise to become the chief nurse of the entire Air Force. The other nominee currently serves as Commander for the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency, making him responsible for leading over 44,000 personnel at 76 military treatment facilities. These nominees are providing critical care and leadership to keep our forces healthy, they should not be punished because the Senator from Alabama thinks he knows more about healthcare than medical professionals.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 107. Currently serving as the commanding general for Marine Corps forces in Japan, he would be the Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations for the Marine Corps if confirmed. As we approach competition with China, we need leaders with experience in the region to be promoted, not to have their careers stopped by politics.
In a moment, I'll be asking the Senate to confirm calendar number 110. Collectively these 23 nominees have over 620 years of service to the Air Force. Nominees include the director for strategic capabilities on the National Security Council, which makes him the principal advisor to the president on how to avoid a nuclear war, and as well as the advisor to the National Nuclear Security Administration protecting the safety and reliability of our nuclear stockpile. Another nominee makes sure we provide all the air and space power necessary to promote U.S. interests in the Pacific. The current director of intelligence at Cyber Command is also held up by the Senator’s antics. Let me assure the Senator from Alabama, we don’t want to play nuclear football.
Closing Remarks as Delivered
We’ve been at this for almost an hour and a half now, but these nominees – these 184 nominees – have been waiting for months and holding had them up and declaring that we just don't need people in these positions is an insult to them and it undermines the safety and security of the United States of America.
If we want to be able to recruit the very best and the brightest that our country has to offer, we need to treat those people with a little respect, and that means that when we’re in it on politics, we do not drag 184 of our most able leaders into the middle of it and say, your promotion, your pay, your next duty station is all on hold until one senator gets his way on one DoD policy. That is an incredibly dangerous approach.
The Senator from Alabama, as much as I respect him, I believe is acting in ways that are irresponsible and put our national defense at risk.
I urge him to release his holds immediately and allow these senior military officers to get the promotions they’ve earned. I renew my request with respect to each calendar number I have raised.
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