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Tuberville exploring new strategies to end military holds ahead of key vote

After the Senate Rules Committee approved a resolution Tuesday that could bring an end to U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s nine-month hold on military nominations, the senior senator from Alabama said he’s exploring new potential compromises ahead of a key vote next month. 

Tuberville, in a call with members of the press on Wednesday, said he was working on “a couple of (new) strategies” with Sen. Mike Lee of Utah to bring his holds to an end before that resolution hits the Senate floor.

“I do have a couple of things I’m working on to maybe get this over with before a vote happens, but that’s yet to be seen,” Tuberville said. “Right now, the Republican Party is going to have to decide whether they’re going to be pro-life, or vote for this resolution to go around me.”

Since February, Tuberville has been objecting to the group passage of military nominations in the Senate as a means to pressure the Pentagon to reverse its new policy on abortion, which covers service members’ travel expenses for seeking abortions out of state.

The new resolution approved in the Rules Committee, however, would allow the Senate to bypass Tuberville’s objections, and confirm military nominations for the remainder of the legislative session. That resolution now heads to the Senate for a floor vote sometime around early December, and will require 60 votes for passage.

With Democrats (and Independents who caucus with them) making up 51 members of the 100-member Senate, the resolution will likely need at least nine Republicans to vote in favor of it.

As to what those new strategies were, Tuberville said he was not ready to make them public yet out of fear that they “could be off-roaded” before implementing them, but did say he was optimistic as to their likelihood of success. Tuberville had previously proposed other compromises he was willing to make to end his holds, none of which were considered seriously by opponents.

While the resolution vote does not have a scheduled date, Tuberville predicted it would take place “maybe around the first of December,” and said until then, he would do his best to convince his Republican colleagues not to vote in its favor. As of Wednesday, however, Tuberville said he has not received assurance that at least nine Republicans won’t end up voting for the resolution.

“I think there’s going to be some people on the Republican side that say that we need to get this over with and not hold up these promotions; we don’t need to do that because it’s not affecting readiness at all,” he said, referencing claims from military leaders that the holds, do in fact threaten readiness and national security.

Alabama Daily News asked Tuberville if he had any concerns that the upcoming vote would force his Republican colleagues into a situation of having to choose between being pro-life or pro-military.

“These holds are not pro-life versus military; the Republicans, we’re pro-life, and we’re also for our military,” he said. “Now the Democrats, (they’re) not for either; they’re definitely not for life for the unborn, and they really don’t support the military like the Republicans do.”

Tuberville has faced increased pressure in recent weeks to put an end to his holds, including from the White House, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, as well as from some of his Republican colleagues. Standing firm, Tuberville argued he was merely representing the values of Alabamians, and that he was still hopeful the resolution to bypass his holds would fail.

“I’m not establishment,” he said. “I vote for the people of Alabama, and I hope the rest of our delegation would vote for our state; if they did that, they would vote against the Democrats.”

Lee’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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