In an unusually busy night in Washington, three unusual bipartisan groupings combined to let a “Squad” member off the hook, keep an alleged felon in the House and condemn the lone senator blockading promotions for key military positions.
In an unusually busy night in Washington, three unusual bipartisan groupings combined to let a “Squad” member off the hook, keep an alleged felon in the House and condemn the lone senator blockading promotions for key military positions in the middle of an international crisis in the Middle East.
- Twenty-three Republicans joined Democrats to tank a censure resolution against Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) over “antisemitic activity” offered by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).
- The resolution condemned Tlaib for saying Israel has an “apartheid system” and still insisting that Israel conducted the strike on al-Ahli Arab Hospital despite evidence it was conducted by Palestine Islamic Jihad.
- In another atypical bipartisan configuration, more than 30 House Democrats joined most Republicans to knock down a resolution to expel Rep. George Santos (R-NY) from the House. The resolution, which required a two-thirds majority to pass, failed 179-213. Santos has been indicted on 23 felony counts.
- Many members of both parties expressed concern about establishing a precedent by expelling a member of Congress without due process. Santos has not been convicted of a crime and while he is currently under investigation by the Ethics Committee, they have not yet released their findings.
- In the Senate, Republicans’ frustrations with Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) reached a boiling point. Tuberville’s decision to blockade 375 military promotions to protest a new Pentagon abortion travel policy is virtually unprecedented. Typically, senators place holds on partisan political appointees to get leverage on executive branch policies, not career military officers.
- Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who are all veterans, attempted to introduce motions to confirm 61 key military leaders to jobs critical to US national security and military readiness, only for Tuberville to block all of them.
- Tuberville previously said that he would not block nominations if they were brought up individually under regular order. However, he completely reversed himself on Wednesday and instead derailed every military promotion brought by his Republican colleagues.
- Ernst pointed out Tuberville’s reversal to his face on the floor: “We have done the best we can to honor the request of a fellow senator that these nominations be brought to the floor & voted on individually. I really respect men of their word. I do not respect men who do not honor their word.” Tuberville offered no explanation for his apparent hypocrisy – he merely smiled and continued to say only “I object.”
- The GOP senators became visibly angry at their colleague’s intransigence and Sullivan mocked Tuberville’s claims that his nine-month-long blockade wasn’t harming military residence as utter “baloney.” Sullivan continued, “Guys are taking incoming right now, caught up in this, I’ve talked to them — it’s just not right. We all know it.”
- Sullivan, Ernst, and Graham all highlighted the spectacular resumes and impressive accomplishments of the nominees Tuberville was sabotaging. “He’s not some woke guy. He’s a warrior,” said Sullivan of another highly decorated officer.
- “This colonel really needs to be promoted. He went and got dead Americans so they wouldn’t be left in the desert of Iraq … this is not the guy to make a point with!” said Sullivan said during hour four of their marathon attempt to confirm new military leaders. Sullivan later told reporters Tuberville’s unspecific claims that “these guys are woke” is “bullshit. Such bullshit.”
- Tuberville, a former football coach who never served in the military, is leading a one-man blockade of military promotions because he does not like the policy on helping servicemembers obtain abortions that the Defense Department introduced under President Joe Biden.
- The New York Times observed that “Though some Democrats have both publicly and privately expressed discomfort with some of Ms. Tlaib’s comments, all of them supported the effort to kill the censure. Some cited the language in Ms. Greene’s resolution that referred to the Oct. 8 protest as an “insurrection” — a term that also alienated some Republicans. Many Democrats argued the measure amounted to a racist broadside against Ms. Tlaib.”
- Republican veteran senators all knocked down Tuberville’s specious claims that his 9-month blockade was “not affecting readiness,” according to CNN. “No matter whether you believe it or not, Sen. Tuberville, this is doing great damage to our military,” said Graham. “Why would you punish them for something they’ve got nothing to do with?”
- NBC News reported Senate Democrats are now considering a “temporary process change” that is “not technically a rules change” to work around Tuberville’s blockade and confirm the more than 300 nominees he is holding up. Any change would need 60 votes to pass the Senate.
- The Wall Street Journal covered Graham’s remarks urging Tuberville to take the Biden administration to court instead of punishing “officers for a policy they don’t control.” “Don’t ruin the lives of all these people who have been serving the nation for decades. This doesn’t help anybody. It doesn’t help any cause,” Graham said. “There’s a reason this has not been done this way for a couple hundred years.”
- The New York Post noted the Santos expulsion resolution was sponsored by the other New York House Republicans from swing seats: Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Marc Molinaro, Nick LaLota, Brandon Williams, and Mike Lawler. “All you have to do is look at the lies and deceptions in the resolution and details of the indictments — multiple indictments — to see that Mr. Santos is a stain on this institution and not fit to serve in the House of Representatives,” D’Esposito said.
- Fox News focused on the 23 House Republicans who voted to table Greene’s motion to censure Tlaib. The 23 included “A wide array of members from the GOP Conference voted to table the resolution, from House Freedom Caucus Policy Chairman Chip Roy, R-Texas, and conservatives like Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-W.Va., to moderate Rep. John Duarte, R-Calif.” Roy argued Greene’s “feckless resolution to censure Tlaib was deeply flawed and made legally and factually unverified claims.”
© Dominic Moore, 2023