Senators have confirmed Air Force Charles CQ” Brown Jr. as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and could confirm two other senior generals soon.

The expected confirmations will fill out the roster of the Joint Chiefs, the nation’s highest ranking military officers, after months of delay by Senator Tommy Tuberville.

With his confirmation, Brown can now replace Army Gen. Mark Milley, current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when Milley retires on Oct. 1.

The Senate was also expected to approve the nomination of Army Gen. Randy George as Army Chief of Staff on Wednesday and Marine Gen. Eric Smith as Marine Corps commandant on Thursday.

The three senior officers have been among hundreds of general and flag officers whose nominations have been on hold since Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) announced in February that he would prevent the Senate from using a routine procedure to approve promotions en masse.

George has been serving as both acting chief of staff and vice chief of staff since Aug. 4, while Smith has been dual-hatted as acting commandant and assistant commandant since July 10.

The Senate still has not voted to confirm Navy Adm. Lisa Franchetti as the Chief of Naval Operations. Franchetti, the first woman nominated to lead a military service, has been performing the duties of the job while continuing to serve as vice chief of naval operations since Aug. 14.

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Tuberville, who is objecting to a Defense Department policy that covers the travel costs of troops who need to go out of state for abortions and other reproductive care, has argued that  the Senate could approve all of the pending nominations by voting on military promotions individually.

Air Force Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr.
Senators confirmed Air Force Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr. as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sept. 20, 2023. ( Eric Dietrich/U.S Air Force)

An August report from the Congressional Research Service found that it would take nearly 700 hours for the Senate to vote on the 273 military nominations that Tuberville was holding up at the time.   

Since then, the number of military promotions under the hold has grown to 319, according to the Pentagon. If Sen. Tuberville does not lift his hold by the end of the year, the nominations of nearly 650 general and flag officers will be stuck.

Democrats initially resisted suggestions from Republican lawmakers that the Senate hold individual votes on the most senior military leaders while leaving Tuberville’s hold in place for hundreds of other promotions.

“For us to countenance such a suggestion in this body that we would we would have a debate and a vote on a few of the top brass, and then we would allow the punishment of these poor people who are trying to move across the country—whose kids need to be in school, whose spouses have jobs they can’t report to—not only should we not do this here, I can’t imagine the key military leadership who are waiting in line even want us to do that,” Sen Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said on Sept. 13.

But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Wednesday that he was calling for a vote to end debate — a procedural move dictated by Senate rules — on the nominations for Brown, George, and Smith.

“These men should have already been confirmed,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “They should already be serving in their new positions. The Senate should not have to go through procedural hoops just to please one brazen and misguided senator. But this is where we are.”

Schumer also predicted that the Senate would vote overwhelmingly to confirm the three military leaders.

“These three honorable men will finally be able to assume their positions, and the abortion policy that Sen. Tuberville abhors will remain in place,” Schumer said. “Sen. Tuberville will have accomplished nothing. But the harm he is doing to the military and their families remains, and unfortunately continues for hundreds of others.”

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