Senate approves back pay for military officers caught in Tuberville’s blockade

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The Senate on Thursday approved legislation to grant back pay to senior military officers whose promotions were delayed for months by Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s hold on nominations.

The Alabama senator had blocked confirmation of general and flag officer promotions for 10 months in protest over the Pentagon’s policy of reimbursing troops who travel to seek abortions. He finally relented last week, allowing more than 400 military nominees to be confirmed.

In the wake of the blockade, senators in both parties pushed to compensate officers who during the impasse had lost out on increased pay that would have come with a higher rank.

The bill, passed by unanimous consent before the Senate left for the week, was introduced by Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), both members of the Armed Services Committee. Tuberville himself was among the first co-sponsors of the bipartisan bill.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor that the bill’s passage signals that troops and their families “don’t deserve to be penalized in any way” for Tuberville’s unprecedented blockade.

“Finally, we’re able to right the wrong of Sen. Tuberville’s illogical, hurtful and dangerous holds and the massive impacts the holds had on military families,” Schumer said.

The measure must still pass the House, but will likely have to wait for a vote there. Lawmakers from the lower chamber left earlier Thursday for the rest of the year, but could take up the measure in January when they return to session.

Tuberville is still blocking the quick confirmation of 11 nominees for four-star positions. Schumer could line up votes on those promotions when the Senate returns next week.

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