Senate confirms first military nominee in months amid broader blockade by Tommy Tuberville

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Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stands for photos in the office of Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) before a meeting with Schumer at the U.S. Capitol on June 21, 2023 in Washington, DC. 

Drew Angerer | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Senate on Wednesday voted to make Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. the nation’s top military officer, marking the first Pentagon confirmation since Sen. Tommy Tuberville put a hold on nominees to protest a Defense Department abortion policy.

Brown was confirmed as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in an 83-11 vote. He will succeed Army Gen. Mark Milley, whose term ends next month.

The confirmation vote comes four months after President Joe Biden nominated Brown and as tensions continue to swirl over Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s monthslong blockade on hundreds of military promotions in opposition to a Defense Department policy that provides time off and reimbursements for service members and family members who need to travel out of state for abortions.

Democrats and the White House have called the Alabama Republican’s procedural tactic a threat to military readiness, while Tuberville and some Republicans have countered that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., could call each of the hundreds of nominees up for individual votes, like with Brown.

Schumer teed up the vote on Brown before Tuberville was able to take a similar step on a different military nominee, NBC News reported earlier.

“It’s about time. I’ve been calling for that for months,” Tuberville told reporters on Wednesday ahead of Brown’s confirmation vote, claiming Schumer’s move was as a win on his part.

In calling the vote, Schumer accused Tuberville of trying to serve as the “gatekeeper” of military confirmations.

“The harm he is doing to the military and their families remains and unfortunately continues for hundreds of others,” Schumer said.

Brown will be the first chairman from the Air Force since 2005, when Gen. Richard B. Myers a nominee of President Bill Clinton concluded his term.

Most recently Brown served as the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, a role he assumed in 2020 when the then Republican-controlled Senate held the historic vote to confirm him as the first Black officer to helm one of the nation’s military services.

Biden has lauded Brown’s credentials as an experienced pilot with more than 3,000 flying hours, including 130 in combat, calling him “a warrior” and an “unflappable and highly effective leader.”