WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, held a meeting to mark up a resolution to break through Senator Tuberville's blockade of merit-based military promotions on the Senate floor.
The resolution, which is led by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI), establishes a standing order for the remainder of the 118th Congress to provide for the en bloc consideration of military promotions - with the exception of nominees to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and commanders of a combatant command - that have been favorably reported by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“This massive hold is hurting our military readiness and our national security. It's hurting the morale of our troops, and it's causing major disruptions in the lives of our military families who have already sacrificed so much,” said Klobuchar. “Military spouses can't look for jobs if they don't know where they're going to move. Kids don't know where they'll be attending school. Military officers can’t take care of their aging parents or figure out where they should be in assisted living if they don't know where they're going to live.”
“I'm a former prosecutor, I believe in evidence. I don't know how much more evidence we need to move on this,” Klobuchar continued. “Our country deserves better. Our military deserves better. The world is watching.”
A rough transcript of Klobuchar’s full opening statement is available below.
I call to order the meeting of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration to consider S.Res. 444, providing for the en bloc consideration of military nominations.
I thank the military friends and families who are here, some of them with loved ones, who are awaiting their own decisions and promotions.
As I thought about this and prepared for this this weekend, like many of my colleagues, I was at veterans events. And there was one in particular in a high school gym in Red Wing, Minnesota, which featured hundreds of kids in the bleachers and veterans, including four World War II veterans on the floor of the gym.
And the speaker was an Iraq veteran who is really incredible, and she told the story of her life, how she had grown up with a single mom, in a very difficult circumstance, and that it was the Army that saved her.
And she said as she got through that time, as she spoke to the high school students, she said she remembered words from the movie Heartbreak Ridge that actually had become an unofficial slogan of the Marine Corps. And it kept everything, every obstacle, that she encountered in life.She remembered these three words, and I thought about it with what we're doing today. And the words are improvise, adapt, and overcome. Improvise, adapt, and overcome.
And simply, that's what we're doing here. We have come up with a narrow, focused solution. We have improvised, we are adapting to our circumstance and we will eventually overcome. And the first part of overcoming is to actually get this resolution through this Committee today.
I want to thank Ranking Member Fischer and our colleagues for being here. And I want to thank Senator Reed for his work on this resolution,the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, as well as Senator Sinema. I'd like to thank Senator Schumer and Senator McConnell. This is the only committee that both leaders serve on and I want to thank them for being here and again, to recognize the many members of the audience from military families who took time out of their day to be with us. Here with us are spouses and family members of service members.
We are here today because one of our colleagues has used the Senate's rules to hold the entire military chain of command hostage. Here's our problem. Right now we have over 350 military positions in limbo because of Senator Tuberville’s hold and nearly 650 military leadership positions will be vacant by the year's end if this continues. This massive hold is hurting our military readiness and our national security. It's hurting the morale of our troops, and it's causing major disruptions in the lives of our military families who have already sacrificed so much.
No one knows that better than those who are joining us today. Military spouses can't look for jobs if they don't know where they're going to move. Kids don't know where they'll be attending school. Military officers can’t take care of their aging parents or figure out where they should be in assisted living if they don't know where they're going to live. One Army General Officer is having to pay $10,000 a month to keep his mom in an assisted living facility while he waits to find out if they're going to move to a new house or not.
A naval officer's wife left her job as a public school teacher because they're expecting a new assignment overseas, and now she's unemployed because she can't take a job in the new place or return to her old school. Instead, she simply waits. The Marine Corps had to cancel a coast-to-coast move for a senior officer and his family. Their belongings had already been shipped, but now they're in storage while the officer covers for another unfilled and more senior role. And yes, as we all know, the Commandant of the Marine Corps had a heart attack while holding down the number one and number two positions with the Marines.
I'm a former prosecutor.I believe in evidence. I don't know how much more evidence we need to move on this. And while this colossal hold, which is truly an antiseptic word to describe what is essentially a blockade, is creating real costs for our military families. It's also creating real risk to our military readiness and our national security.
Senator Tuberville is holding up the Commander of CYBERCOM at a time when threats to our national security don't always involve traditional weapons of war. He is holding up the head of the Pacific Air Command while China is saber rattling and North Korea sent Russia a million artillery shells. And he is holding up the Commander of the Fifth Fleet, which oversees our naval forces in the Persian Gulf. There are hundreds of others waiting, and the uncertainty is having a devastating impact.
Our country deserves better. Our military deserves better. The world is watching.
For months, Senator Tuberville has not listened to his Democratic or his Republican colleagues, and many of them have now spoken out on the Senate floor. He's not listening to those who run our military. He's not listening to former military officials. So we need to stand up for our military and our national security and allow these promotions to move forward.
Because when our troops are on the battlefield, they don't ask if their commander is a Democrat or Republican. They don't ask what their views are on certain issues that they may not agree with. They just do their jobs. They don't ask if the person next to them voted for, who they voted for, and whether they hold a certain political position.
Regardless of our own political views we need to do what it takes to make sure our military has its leaders in place to protect our country. I get back to my first three words that I learned in that high school gym. Improvise, adapt, and overcome. That is what this policy is about. It is temporary and it makes a change simply for the nominations in the military that are before us through the end of the Congress.
It has the support of groups representing our service members and their families, Blue Star families, the National Military Family Association, and the Secure Family Initiative and the American Legion has also urged a bipartisan resolution as well. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in supporting it.