The Senate on Thursday approved three senior military nominations, filling crucial positions to lead the Navy, Air Force and Marines that have until now been blocked by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.).
The Senate voted to confirm Adm. Lisa Franchetti for chief of naval operations, making her the first woman to officially lead the Navy.
Franchetti has been serving as chief of naval operations in an acting capacity since August because of Tuberville’s holds, which are in protest to a Defense Department abortion policy.
Gen. David Allvin was confirmed as Air Force chief of staff. Allvin has also been serving in an acting capacity since October after the previous Air Force head, Gen. Charles Brown, was confirmed to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Both votes were 95-1. Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) was the lone “no” vote on both nominations.
Senators also confirmed Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney to be the assistant commandant of the Marines.
The confirmation fills a crucial No. 2 spot in the military branch after acting Marines Commandant Gen. Eric Smith was hospitalized this week for an undisclosed illness.
The Thursday confirmations override Tuberville’s blockade on general and flag officers, but still leave nearly 400 nominees in limbo, which the Pentagon has warned is endangering national security during a tense time across the globe.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has been willing to hold votes on just some of the most important nominees to overcome Tuberville, who is blocking the senior officers from a voice vote confirmation, a much faster process that has traditionally been used for military nominations.
The Senate in September confirmed Brown as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Randy George as Army chief of staff and Smith as Marine Corps commandant.
Tuberville has refused to drop his holds, which he began in February, until the Pentagon reverses its policy providing paid leave and travel cost reimbursement for servicemembers who cross state lines for an abortion. He has also pinned the blame on Schumer for not bringing the votes individually.
Thursday’s votes come after a Wednesday evening showdown between several Republican senators and Tuberville, showing that patience in the GOP is growing thin on the issue.
Sens. Dan Sullivan (Ala.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) were among the furious lawmakers who for hours tried to bring individual nominees up for a vote on Wednesday, forcing Tuberville to object to each nominee.
The catalyst for the nominations this week appears to have been the hospitalization of Smith.
Tuberville’s office said it had “called Schumer’s bluff” after the Alabama senator announced plans to force a vote on Mahoney on Tuesday before Schumer the next day announced he would bring the three nominees to a vote.
“Schumer blinked and essentially admitted that he could have been getting these nominees confirmed this whole time,” Tuberville’s office wrote in a Wednesday email, arguing it could set a precedent for the GOP senator to force more votes.
When he announced the votes on Wednesday, Schumer said he felt compelled to take action after Smith was hospitalized.
Schumer also blasted Tuberville for his holds, saying the senator was playing politics with military nominees and “military appointments risk being further ensnared in partisan politics.”
Updated at 3:14 p.m.