The northeast side of the U.S. Capitol is seen on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023.

The northeast side of the U.S. Capitol is seen on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023. (Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes)

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the remaining military officers blocked from promotion by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, approving the nominations of 11 four-star generals and admirals.

The unanimous voice vote marked the end of an unsuccessful protest that the Alabama Republican began in February to force the Pentagon to rescind an abortion travel policy for service members lacking adequate access to reproductive health care.

Tuberville dropped his hold on more than 400 general and flag officers this month under mounting pressure from lawmakers and fears that the unusually long blockade was harming national security. He maintained a block on four-star nominees, however.

The continued holds meant the Senate would have to confirm each of the officers one by one, but Tuberville raised no objection when the Senate moved to approve the promotions in a block vote on Tuesday night.

“These 11 flag officers have now been approved, joining the rest of their colleagues who we approved a few weeks ago,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who had vowed to confirm the 11 officers this week. “That’s good news.”

The generals and admirals include Air Force Lt. Gen. Gregory Guillot to lead Northern Command; Air Force Lt. Gen. Timothy Hugh to head Cyber Command and Space Force; Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting to head U.S. Space Command; Vice Adm. Stephen Koehler to command the Navy’s Pacific Fleet and Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider to command Pacific Air Forces.

Army Lt. Gen. James J. Mingus, Space Force Lt. Gen. Michael A. Guetlein, Navy Adm. James Kilby and Air Force Lt. Gen. James Slife will become their services’ second-highest ranking officers, while Air Force Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach will be head of Air Combat Command. Vice Adm. William Houston will be director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., on Tuesday night said he wanted to apologize to the hundreds of military families that were affected by Tuberville’s blockade, calling it a “sad chapter” in the Senate’s history.

Hundreds of military families had to endure the uncertainty of whether their loved ones were going to assume the promotions they had earned after years of protecting the country, he said. Carper, a retired Navy captain, recalled his own service in the Vietnam War and said service members needed to be treated with respect.

“I know the last months have been not happy days for a lot of people in the armed services who deserve better,” he said. “My hope is and my prayer is that … as we move toward a new year that the memories of what they’ve had to endure will fade and that what they’ll remember is that there are a number of our colleagues who stood up and said that this has got to end.”

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Svetlana Shkolnikova covers Congress for Stars and Stripes. She previously worked with the House Foreign Affairs Committee as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow and spent four years as a general assignment reporter for The Record newspaper in New Jersey and the USA Today Network. A native of Belarus, she has also reported from Moscow, Russia.

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