Tuberville, who is under pressure from Republicans over military custody, says he is reviewing options


WASHINGTON (AP) — Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville said he was open to negotiating an end to his blockade of nearly 400 military candidates after meeting with his Senate Republican colleagues on Tuesday, signaling a shift after he He deepened his protest From the Pentagon’s abortion policy for more than nine months.

The extraordinary meeting called by GOP senators to challenge one of them comes after a handful of Republicans in the Senate Keep the floor for more than four hours Last week amid frustration, 61 military nominations were called, only for Tuberville to stand up and object every time. The Senate has traditionally approved large groups of military nominations by voice vote, but just one senator’s objection could upend that process.

Tuberville said he would work with other senators on possible options, and “hopefully we can start to move forward.” This was in contrast to last week, when he said there was “zero chance” the ban would be lifted, absent a change in policy. But it is still unclear how a solution can be found.

Republicans who criticized Tuberville suggested they might try to persuade him to block civilian rather than military nominations or take legal action against the department. They also said they would also try to force more votes on nominations if the ban was not lifted.

Tuberville suggested other options in a memo he circulated before the meeting, including Congress passing legislation that would block the abortion policy or the Defense Department rescinding it — both unlikely scenarios he had suggested before.

There is discussion about new Pentagon rules that would allow travel reimbursement when a service member has to go out of state for an abortion or other reproductive care. President Joe Biden’s administration established the new rules after the Supreme Court Abolished the nationwide right to abortionSome countries have restricted or banned this procedure.

“I went with one or two options. I went with five or six,” he said after the meeting. He also indicated that he might allow a small number of nominations to go through.

“There will be some give and take,” Tuberville said.

Republicans who left the meeting said there were still no real answers. “We’re still looking for a solution,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Republicans held the meeting while Senate Democrats are considering a resolution that would allow batches of military nominees to pass over Tuberville’s objections — a temporary measure that Republicans fear could erode the powers of the Senate minority.

The decision by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed and independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona whether to consider military nominations all at once will go before the Senate Rules Committee next week. Reed said he believes that if the impasse is not resolved by then, “a number of Republicans will be willing to support the resolution.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that “patience is running out” with the nine-month-old siege of Tuberville, and that Democrats “will do everything we can to get it done.”

Senior military officials have repeatedly warned of the situation It threatens readiness and national security. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last week that the delays hurt readiness and “unnecessarily burdened our military families, who already give up so much to support those who serve.”

All Republican senators said they disagreed with the abortion policy, too. But some of them argued that Tuberville’s protest was misguided.

“It is time to develop a new, smarter strategy,” said Republican Sen. Todd Young of Indiana, who served in the Marines and was one of the senators who criticized the siege of Tuberville on the Senate floor.

The standoff on the Senate floor last week was led by Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, a colonel in the US Marine Corps Reserve, and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, a former commander in the US Army Reserve and Iowa Army National Guard. The two Republican senators read the officers’ credentials, praising their military service and criticizing Tuberville as he sat quietly alone, rising to object each time. At one point, Sullivan called the siege a “national security suicide mission.”

As they left the meeting, the two senators said the conversation was constructive. “The conference laid out a number of alternatives” for Tuberville, Ernst said. “He should evaluate those.”

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