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Tommy Tuberville Aide Causes Republicans Uproar For Floating Primaries Over His Military Holds


Republicans reacted angrily on Thursday after a spokesman for Sen. Tommy Tuberville revealed the names of potential primary opponents for senators who support removing Tuberville’s ban on military promotions.

The outcry coincides with Republicans being more vocal in their dissatisfaction over Tuberville’s months-long ban on over 300 senior military promotions. Tuberville objected to each of the 60 military candidates that Senate Republicans attempted to pass during a four and a half-hour floor struggle on Wednesday night.

The Republican from Alabama stated on Thursday that he intends to keep holding off on appointing people until the Pentagon modifies its abortion policy, despite the objections of his colleagues. But as soon as a prominent Republican stated that the staffer needed to face consequences, he rapidly distanced himself from the comments made by his aide.

The spokesman, Steven Stafford, requested via email last Thursday that anti-abortion organizations openly oppose Senate Republicans who support a Democratic proposal to temporarily suspend the rules in order to get over Tuberville’s barrier.

“In my opinion it is imperative for all of the groups to make clear, in some words, that any Republican who votes for this will be primaried,” Stafford said in the email, which was first reported by Politico and confirmed by NBC News.

Sen. Republicans, however, were incensed.

“I have seen it. I have some words and they’re not polite so I’m not going to say them,” said Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, who was among a group of Republicans that confronted Tuberville for his tactics Wednesday on the Senate floor.

The head of the Senate Republican campaign arm, which is in charge of defending incumbents, Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, stated that the staff member ought to be disciplined, “up to and including termination.”

“My understanding is it did not come from Senator Tuberville, it came from his staffer, and I’m confident that Senator Tuberville will take appropriate action,” Daines said. “It’s a violation of ethics rules, and it needs to be dealt with severely.”

Stafford declined to respond when asked if his employer had seen the email.

Tuberville told NBC News: “That was not me. That came from in my office on some memorandum. Definitely against that.”

“These are my teammates,” he said, referring to GOP colleagues. “I mean, this is getting way out of proportion when it comes to that. We all disagree, right, in some form or fashion. But no, I had nothing to do with that. First time I saw it was yesterday.”

However, Tuberville had issued a warning on Wednesday, saying that Republicans who voted in favor of the rule change would be committing “suicide.”

“They’ve got to vote for their constituents, they don’t vote for themselves,” he said. “See, I don’t understand that, I mean, you’re either pro-life or you’re not, and so if they vote against this it’s going to be suicide for some of them. Let them do it.”

While Tuberville’s holds are in place, the Senate is still able to consider military nominations; his obstruction merely significantly slows down the procedure. Democrats have mainly rejected proposals to conduct the confirmation votes one at a time, arguing that doing so would be unfeasible and that they should instead be conducted in batches, as is customary.

In spite of Tuberville’s holds, the Senate decided on Thursday afternoon to approve the promotions of three senior military officers. They are Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, who was officially confirmed as assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. David Allvin, as chief of staff of the Air Force, and Adm.

Lisa Franchetti, the new head of Naval Operations. Mahoney’s affirmation coincides with Gen. Eric Smith, the commandant of the Marine Corps, being admitted to the hospital following a heart attack over the weekend.

Smith’s hospitalization “simply illustrates very dramatically the personal consequences of this unconscionable hold,” according to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., one of the Democrats spearheading a resolution to bypass Tuberville’s holds. Blumenthal noted that Smith was “working, as reported, 18 hours a day or more doing two highly critical jobs under tremendous pressure” because he was without an assistant commandant.

“That’s not only bad for his health but also for our national security. … I hope it will clarify in my Republican colleagues’ minds the toll that this hold is taking. It’s not just conceptual or hypothetical, it’s real in the lives of our military, and it’s not just the nominees who are affected, it’s the entire command structure,” Blumenthal continued.

The chair of the Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jack Reed, D-RI, expressed worry but said he would respect Smith’s doctors.

“It just illustrates the fact that you’re doing two significant jobs simultaneously and working hours that the commandant was working — five in the morning until 11:30 at night — will have an effect on most people,” he said. “I know it would have an effect on myself and most of my colleagues, and probably a serious one.”

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