‘Trainwreck’: Conservative GOP senators break on border, Ukraine deal as Donald Trump pressures Republicans

““If someone is running for president and is trying to actively undermine governance, that’s bad,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., told USA TODAY. “Is it really better to have 10,000 people crossing a day illegally or 5,000? Clearly it’s 5,000. So somebody who is trying to defeat legislation, all in the name of running for office? That is irresponsible.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., acknowledged the new political challenges of linking Ukraine aid to border policy in the closed-door meeting Wednesday, according to reporting by Punchbowl. “We don’t want to do anything to undermine” Trump, McConnell reportedly said. “We’re in a quandary.””

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trainwreck-conservative-gop-senators-break-004108227.html

Tuberville lifted his military blockade. But those officers are still stuck.

“Top officials say the holdup has real-world effects, as the Pentagon deals with conflicts on multiple fronts, from supporting Ukraine and Israel to fending off attacks on ground forces in Iraq and Syria and naval forces in the Red Sea.
“When it’s unclear whether or not your senior leaders are going to be in place at the time and place they’re needed, that of course creates unnecessary friction and does have impact on readiness,” Ryder said.

In one prominent example, Tuberville is still blocking Lt. Gen. Gregory Guillot, the deputy commander at U.S. Central Command, who is nominated to be the new head of U.S. Northern Command. That means Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, who was confirmed to replace Guillot at Central Command, can’t do so.

That also means Vice Adm. George Wikoff, who was confirmed to replace Cooper as the top commander overseeing all naval forces in the Middle East, has to stay put. The Domino effect continues down the line.

Similarly at the Pentagon, Tuberville still has a hold on Lt. Gen. Jim Mingus, now serving as the director of the Joint Staff, to be the Army’s No. 2. Even though his replacement, Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims, has now been approved for the promotion, he still can’t move into the new position until Mingus gets confirmed.”

https://www.politico.com/news/2023/12/08/tuberville-military-blockade-00130798

Republican senator who voted to convict Trump speaks out on his third indictment

“Murkowski added that Trump “is innocent until proven guilty and will have his day in court,” and encouraged people to read the indictment “to understand the very serious allegations being made in this case.””

The far right’s war on “woke” has real-world consequences for the military

“Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville has held up the confirmation of more than 260 generals for new command posts — including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the head of the Marine Corps — over his objections to the Pentagon’s abortion policy.
Tuberville, a former football coach who is closely allied with former President Donald Trump, has refused to go forward with the routine confirmations and is essentially using defense policy as leverage to promote his cultural ideology. But the Department of Defense has repeatedly warned that holding up the confirmations is damaging the military’s chain of command at the highest levels, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff — especially concerning amid a time of increasing tension between the US and China, and as the US supports Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.

“These are our nominees who have incredibly important jobs all around the world, who are working with our partners and allies,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said in an interview with Fox News Thursday. “And it sends a message to our adversaries.”

Any senator can hold up these confirmations, even if the other 99 wish to move forward with them, because of the Senate concept of unanimous consent, which is not a formal Senate rule but allows the body to make changes to regular order to expedite legislating such as allowing batch confirmations. Unanimous consent can apply to all different parts of the Senate’s legislative process — everything from limiting debates and amendments to scheduling votes — and essentially means that the body has decided to dispense with the Senate’s usual procedures in the interests of moving business forward. It’s not always part of the legislative process, but it’s used so often that there are rules and precedents surrounding it.

The Senate has long relied on unanimous consent to promote military personnel through batch confirmations, but with Tuberville’s hold, the only way to move the confirmations forward would be to vote on them one by one, through regular order. Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Associated Press that doing so would take up to 84 days with the chamber working regular, eight-hour days, or 27 days if they worked “around the clock.”

Tuberville’s hold, which could affect 650 military promotions by the year’s end, is based on a misrepresentation of how the Pentagon’s abortion policy works. And he isn’t the only Republican using legislation related to the military to force right-wing policies into defense policy. House Freedom Caucus members scored a victory this week when the House passed a version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that included amendments limiting abortion, LGBTQ+ rights, and diversity, equality, and inclusion programs. “This bill has been transformed into an extremist manifesto,” House Minority Whip Katherine Clark told CNN after the bill passed.

In a macro sense, right-wing Republicans’ push to undo progress in the DoD both echoes and foreshadows their intent to halt the business of governing to try to codify policies that many Americans don’t support. And on a more specific scale, it affects the overall functioning of the military — everything from funding, to the chain of command, down to military families trying to plan moves to new bases. Tuberville and House Freedom Caucus members are also breaking with decades of Republican tradition by failing to support the military and military policy.”

GOP Sen. Tuberville blocked 184 military promotions in his ongoing abortion fight with the Pentagon

“Warren and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin say the promotions are critical to military readiness, and Tuberville is blocking pay raises and preventing key leaders from taking their posts.
“One senator is jeopardizing America’s national security,” Warren said on the Senate floor.

The promotion of Shoshana Chatfield to vice admiral and as the U.S. representative to the NATO military committee is especially urgent, Warren said.

“At this critical juncture of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, we need her leadership in NATO now more than ever,” she said.

Blocking military promotions leaves America more vulnerable, Austin said last month during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

“There are a number of things happening globally that indicate that we could be in a contest on any one given day,” he said. “Not approving the recommendations for promotions actually creates a ripple effect through the force that makes us far less ready than we need to be.””

The uproar over Dianne Feinstein, explained

“Feinstein, who is 89, is presently on leave from the Senate due to a case of shingles. She’s been away from the Senate since early March, and it’s not yet clear when she’ll be back. In a statement shared last week, Feinstein noted that her return has been delayed due to “complications related to my diagnosis.” In the interim, she’s said she’ll work remotely and have another Democrat serve in her stead on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
That plan, however, hit a major snag on Tuesday as Senate Republicans made clear that they wouldn’t help Democrats add a temporary replacement to the panel.

In order to fill Feinstein’s Judiciary seat while she’s out, Democrats need to have unanimous consent — the agreement of all senators — or, failing that, 60 votes in support. With Feinstein out, that means Democrats would need the backing of every Democrat and independent in the Senate, plus at least 10 Republicans.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that Republicans are not inclined to provide those votes. “Senate Republicans will not take part in sidelining a temporary absent colleague off the committee just so Democrats can force through their very worst nominees,” he said in a floor speech.

McConnell’s announcement adds to the pressure on Feinstein, given how big of a priority judges are for Democrats this term. With too few votes to overcome the filibuster and a Republican House majority, filling the judiciary with their nominees is one of the few things Democrats could feasibly accomplish. But due to Feinstein’s ongoing absence, Democrats haven’t had the majority they need to continue approving judges on the Judiciary Committee, prompting concerns about a backlog as President Joe Biden tries to counter GOP stacking of the courts.”

How Kyrsten Sinema’s decision to leave the Democratic Party will change the Senate

“Sinema’s decision reflects a tradition of Arizona politics, where registered independents rival the state’s registered Republicans as the state’s largest voting group. The state is split nearly evenly into thirds among the two major parties and independents.
Based on initial exit polls, the makeup of this year’s electorate reflected some of this dynamic: Independents made up the largest group of voters in the Senate race, and they backed Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly by more than 15 points. Republicans, the next largest group, backed candidate Blake Masters by a smaller margin than they backed the 2020 election-denying gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.

Sinema has said that her decision to change parties is meant to reflect this dynamic: “I promised I would never bend to party pressure,” she wrote in her op-ed. “Arizonans — including many registered as Democrats or Republicans — are eager for leaders who focus on common-sense solutions rather than party doctrine. … It’s no wonder a growing number of Americans are registering as independents. In Arizona, that number often outpaces those registered with either national party.”

Arizona’s partisan breakdown isn’t expected to change dramatically before 2024, and Sinema’s decision makes the state’s upcoming Senate race wide-open. Sinema isn’t announcing a reelection effort yet, only saying that she does not plan to run for president. But if she does run, her move could work to her advantage.

She faced an uphill challenge by running as Democrat — she wasn’t leading in any hypothetical polling conducted in 2021 or 2022 when matched up against leading alternative Democratic candidates, like Rep. Gallego, Rep. Greg Stanton, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, or Tucson Mayor Regina Romero. Her favorability ratings remained low during the last year in both public and private Democratic polling from the Kelly campaign, according to a Democratic operative who was familiar with those results. Now, by unaffiliating herself with the state party, she could avoid what likely would have been a bruising primary contest that she would have lost.”