Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., pictured in March 2022 during a hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., pictured in March 2022 during a hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. ((Defense Department photo by U.S. Air Force TSgt. Jack Sanders))

WASHINGTON — Two Democrats on the House’s main investigative panel are calling for a government review of Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s hold on senior military nominations last year and the impact it had on national security and service members.

Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight and Accountability Committee, and Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., said the extent of the damage from the 10-month blockade is still unknown and warranted an examination by the watchdog Government Accountability Office.

The hold by Tuberville, R-Ala., delayed the promotion of more than 425 general and flag officers, including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“Sen. Tuberville’s actions created a damaging ripple effect on the careers of service members at all levels,” Raskin and Garcia wrote in a letter to Gene Dodaro, the comptroller general of the United States and head of the GAO.

The lawmakers said senior military leaders were forced to assume roles without the necessary legal authorities for decision-making and junior officers lost the opportunity to rise in rank and gain experience.

“Such career stagnation radiates massive effects on factors such as service member retention, pay, pension and future opportunities,” they wrote.

Raskin and Garcia said they also wanted to know the cost of Tuberville’s blockade on military families. A survey conducted by the Democratic staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee last year found military spouses and children grappling with the uncertainty of stalled promotions.

Some military spouses said they became unemployed because their spouse’s career and new duty location were in limbo and children ended up not enrolled in schools because expected moves were blocked. Several families said they had to cancel relocations after their belongings had already been shipped.

“It is critical that Congress understand the full effects of the hold on military families,” the lawmakers wrote.

Tuberville’s office did not respond Friday to a request for comment. The senator initiated his blockade in February 2023 in a bid to force the Pentagon to change its abortion access policy for service members.

Lawmakers and military officials sharply criticized Tuberville’s hold for damaging military readiness and harming national security. Raskin and Garcia said the government watchdog review must include an investigation of the short- and long-term ramifications of the blockade on national security.

Garcia, the top Democrat on the oversight committee’s national security subpanel, urged the committee’s Republican chairman in October 2023 to convene a hearing on Tuberville’s holds but the request went unanswered, according to Garcia.

Tuberville dropped his blockade in December and the Senate confirmed the last group of stalled nominees several weeks later.

Twitter: @svetashko

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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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