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Colleagues are fed up with Sen. Tommy Tuberville blocking military appointments

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

One man continues to hold up hundreds of military appointments, that's Senator Tommy Tuberville. The Alabama Republican has been blocking nearly all nominations since February in protest over a Pentagon abortion policy. His colleagues are fed up and they're starting to get creative about solutions. Here's NPR's Lauren Hodges.

LAUREN HODGES, BYLINE: If you can't move him, it's time to find a way around him. That seems to be the thinking among many of Senator Tuberville's colleagues. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar told NPR...

AMY KLOBUCHAR: Enough is enough. Senator Tuberville had not listened to those that are running our military, and he's not listened to his own Republican colleagues.

HODGES: Among those is Senator Dan Sullivan from Alaska, who says he takes this personally as a former Marine. Sullivan told Fox News this week that Tuberville isn't just undermining military readiness, but also morale.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DAN SULLIVAN: If we start driving our best flag officers out of the military, this is going to be viewed as a national security suicide mission.

HODGES: There is generally resistance in the Senate to changing any rules. But Klobuchar says the vocal irritation from Republicans makes her confident they can pass a new temporary resolution, which is scheduled for a committee vote next week. In their current state, Senate rules allow Tuberville to hold up nominations all by himself. But the proposed change, which would need 60 votes to adopt, would work like this - instead of voting on each military appointment one by one, most of them could pass through at once as a group. And it would only need a simple majority, like all other nominations. Klobuchar says Tuberville has blocked so many positions - more than 370 of them - the Senate doesn't have time to start from the beginning, even if someone got him to back down. There's a spending bill deadline to consider.

KLOBUCHAR: Because if we voted on them individually, we would literally be going through the year and the government would shut down.

HODGES: Klobuchar says once the Tuberville issue is handled, she'd loved to see a permanent rule change, making sure no one person has the power to do something like this again.

Lauren Hodges, NPR News, the Capitol.

(SOUNDBITE OF SURPRISE CHEF'S "HERBIE HEMPHILL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Lauren Hodges is an associate producer for All Things Considered. She joined the show in 2018 after seven years in the NPR newsroom as a producer and editor. She doesn't mind that you used her pens, she just likes them a certain way and asks that you put them back the way you found them, thanks. Despite years working on interviews with notable politicians, public figures, and celebrities for NPR, Hodges completely lost her cool when she heard RuPaul's voice and was told to sit quietly in a corner during the rest of the interview. She promises to do better next time.