Military and Defense

Senate Confirms Top Navy, Air Force And Marine Corps Officers In Emergency Vote

The Senate voted to confirm top-ranking officers in the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps on Thursday after both Republican Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer voiced support for individual votes, bypassing Tuberville’s hold on mass military promotions.

Schumer organized a vote on Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney to serve officially as second-in-command after the current commandant, himself just confirmed in September, was hospitalized over the weekend, according to Politico. Tuberville threw his weight in behind the effort, which Tuesday night grew to include the top officers in the Navy and Air Force after Schumer filed a procedural motion setting up the vote.

Adm. Lisa Franchetti was confirmed as chief of naval operations 95 to 1 in a vote Thursday afternoon, according to the Senate Press Gallery. The Senate then confirmed Gen. David Allvin to serve as Air Force chief of staff by a vote of the same margin.

Mahoney was confirmed 86-0, concluding votes for the day.

Schumer also expressed support for a resolution in the works among Senate Democrats on a package that would bring all 380 outstanding confirmations to the floor en bloc, Politico reported earlier on Wednesday. It’s a sign Democrats are finally taking the initiative on overcoming Tuberville’s unilateral blockade after previously punting the responsibility to Republican lawmakers.

Tuberville began pushing to confirm Mahoney the day after the Marine Corps announced its commandant, Marine Corps. Gen. Eric Smith, had been hospitalized. The service has not revealed any additional information about Smith’s status.

In the meantime, the next highest ranking Marine at Marine Corps headquarters, a three-star general heading combat development and integration, has been serving as commandant in Smith’s place, the service said.

Schumer called the vacancy at the top of the Marine Corps an “avoidable emergency” and blamed Tuberville’s “supremely risky” tactic for creating conditions leading to Smith’s apparent heart attack, Politico reported.

Smith had previously called his schedule, packed with duties of both commandant and assistant commandant, “unsustainable,” Marine Corps Times reported.

“Emergencies happen, and when they do the chain of command must be able to respond,” Schumer said, according to Politico. “But thanks to Senator Tuberville, there is no current No. 2 with the Marine Corps to fill in.”

Franchetti and Allvin have also been serving in their posts as chief of naval operations for the Navy and chief of staff for the Air Force, respectively, on an acting basis since their predecessors retired or moved up.

The vote means all five services have confirmed military leaders for the first time since the previous Marine Corps commandant, Gen. David Berger, retired in July.

Tuberville previously forced Schumer’s hand on confirming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. C. Q. Brown, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George and Smith in individual votes.

Tuberville’s hold affects block confirmations, which only pass by unanimous consent.

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