The Senate voted 83 to 11 on Wednesday to confirm Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, putting him in line to be the highest-ranking U.S. military officer when Gen. Mark Milley's four-year term ends Sept. 30. Brown, 60, became the first Black officer to lead a military service when he was confirmed as Air Force chief of staff in 2020, and he will be only the second Black Joint Chiefs chairman, after Army Gen. Colin Powell.
Brown's confirmation, and the expected votes Thursday to promote Gen. Randy George as head of the Army and Gen. Eric Smith to lead the Marines, sidestepped a monthslong blockade of military promotions by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.). Tuberville said he will continue his blockade until the Pentagon ends a policy of supporting female service members who have to go out of state to get an abortion. The Pentagon, Democrats and some Republicans have slammed Tuberville's blanket hold for undermining military readiness.
Tuberville was one of the 11 Republican senators who voted against Brown's promotion, but he still portrayed it as a win because it showcased that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) can bring up individual officers for promotion.
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For decades, the Senate confirmed noncontroversial senior military promotions in large blocks. Holding individual votes on the more than 300 high-level nominations blocked by Tuberville would take months, even if the Senate did little else. The number of officers ensnared in Tuberville's hold will rise to about 650 by the end of the year, the Pentagon said.
White House national security spokesperson Jack Kirby said that confirming Brown, George and Smith was good for the three generals, the military and the country, but "it doesn't fix the problem or provide a path forward for the 316 other general and flag officers that are held up by this ridiculous hold." Not confirming senior officers also blocks junior officers from advancing and affects pay, retirement and future assignments, driving future leaders out of the military.
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