President Joe Biden’s nominee to be the Navy’s top officer, Adm. Lisa Franchetti, said it could take the service years to recover from the impacts of Sen. Tommy Tuberville‘s blockade of hundreds of senior military promotions.
Franchetti told the Senate Armed Services Committee during her confirmation hearing Thursday that the impasse has created “a lot of uncertainty” for Navy families.
“Just at the three-star level, it would take about three to four months just to move all the people around,” Franchetti said. “But it will take years to recover … from the promotion delays that we would see.”
More than 300 general and flag officer nominees have no clear path to confirmation over Tuberville’s objections, which he put in place over his opposition to the Pentagon’s policy that reimburses troops who need to travel to seek abortions and other reproductive care. The Pentagon is standing by the policy and Tuberville has vowed to continue his procedural hold, so there’s no end in sight to the standoff.
As the Navy’s current No. 2, Franchetti has been doing the top job on a temporary basis since Adm. Mike Gilday retired in August. The Army and Marine Corps are also being led by interim chiefs who are waiting to be confirmed.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who quizzed Franchetti about the impact of the blockade, said the long-lasting effects create a “propaganda win for our enemies.”
“Our military experts project China wants to be able to take Taiwan by 2027, and we’ll still be trying to repair the damage inflicted by these holds,” Warren said.
“The Republicans’ failure to end this blockade makes it clear: they don’t care about our leaders,” she added. “They don’t care about the families who have served their country honorably for decades.”
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) shot back at Warren’s comments, noting that the blockade would end if Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin simply repealed the abortion travel policy.
“One person. Secretary Austin, come on, do the right thing,” Cramer said.
Democrats, who’ve urged GOP leaders to talk Tuberville down from his tactics, estimate that nearly 90 percent of general and flag officers will be impacted by the hold between the over 600 officers requiring confirmation this year and other officers who will have to temporarily cover vacant jobs.
Confirming all the delayed promotions individually isn’t practical and would take hundreds of hours. But Republicans contend Majority Leader Chuck Schumer should at least hold one-off votes on members of the Joint Chiefs. The problem worsens at the beginning of next month, when Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley retires with no Senate-confirmed officer to take his place.
Franchetti also underscored the “uncertainty” the blockade had created for Navy families, who face delayed moves, issues with school enrollments and other problems.
“Our Navy families are dealing with a lot of uncertainty,” she said. “I have heard a lot of concerns from our families that they are having difficulty navigating that space right now.”