Tommy Tuberville raises the white flag of surrender

The Senate can finally confirm the promotions of hundreds of senior military officers that have been held up for 10 months by Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville. He announced Tuesday that he was finally dropping his hold on most promotions after weeks of pressure from fellow Republicans.

“I’m releasing everybody,” Tuberville told reporters, then immediately contradicted himself. “I still got a hold on I think 11 four-star generals. Everybody else is completely released from me. But other than that, it’s over.” There’s a sign of how serious a lawmaker he is: He doesn’t even know how many people are affected by his actions. In fact, as of Dec. 1, there were 445 senior military officers whose careers had been taken hostage by the senator, and there are indeed 11 four-star posts he is still blocking.

Tuberville initially blocked the promotions to protest a Pentagon policy that allows paid leave to service members to travel out of state for abortions. Plenty of people, including former GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, have speculated that in recent months he’s doubled down on his obstruction on behalf of Donald Trump. “Why is Tommy Tuberville doing that?” Cheney said in an interview on NPR. “It’s causing great damage to this nation’s military readiness. Is he holding those positions open so that Donald Trump can fill them? What’s he doing? It’s certainly not serving the purposes of the United States of America.”

That could be the case on the remaining holds, the top brass of the military. But it’s also the solution that Democrats—and a growing number of Republicans—were ready to deploy. If Tuberville hadn’t caved in the next few weeks, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was going to put a resolution on the floor to allow the Senate to bypass Tuberville on all but the top positions.

Right after Tuberville’s announcement, Schumer said the Senate would move as quickly as possible to get the confirmations done. “Finally lifting his unnecessary and harmful holds on our nation’s military officials, I’m happy we can finally move forward and give these men and women the promotion they deserve. I plan to move these promotions as soon as possible, possibly later this afternoon.”

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