Senator Tommy Tuberville doesn’t think it’s a big deal that military leaders are having to work minimum 18 hours a day because of his blockade on military promotions.
The Department of Defense has repeatedly warned that Tuberville’s stunt is hurting military readiness. As if more proof were needed, the commandant of the Marine Corps has been hospitalized after suffering a heart attack over the weekend.
General Eric Smith has been working as both commandant and his own assistant commandant since mid-September because the Senate has been unable to confirm an official deputy for him. He had previously warned that his schedule—getting up at 5 a.m. and working until 11:30 p.m. every day—was “not a sustainable thing.” There is no indication that Smith’s workload contributed to his heart attack, but working two jobs likely didn’t help.
When asked about the strain that his blockade is causing Smith and other military leaders, Tuberville said Thursday, “[He’s] probably got 2,000 people who work for him, OK?”
“Somebody said he’s working 18 hours a day. Jack Reed blamed me for his heart attack. Come on, give me a break,” Tuberville told CNN’s Manu Raju.
The Alabama Republican was referring to Democratic Senator Jack Reed, who said earlier this week that Smith’s intense workload “contributed to his condition.”
“This guy’s gonna work 18–20 hours a day no matter what,” Tuberville continued. “That’s what we do. I did that for years because you gotta get the job done.”
Tuberville was referring to his previous job as a college football coach. While he may well have put in 18 hours a day for the various teams he led, the demands of his job are likely a little different from what Smith is handling.
Tuberville has blocked almost 400 military promotions since March in protest over the Defense Department’s policy of reimbursing travel costs for service members who have to go out of state for an abortion.
The Pentagon has warned repeatedly that Tuberville’s blockade harms military readiness, with the secretary of the Navy accusing Tuberville of “aiding and abetting” Communist regimes by holding up promotions.
Even Tuberville’s fellow Republicans are getting sick of his shenanigans, with several calling him out by name on the Senate floor Thursday night. Dan Sullivan delivered the most scathing rebuke, saying it was “ridiculous” that Tuberville continues to insist he isn’t harming military readiness.
“Xi Jinping is loving this. So is Putin,” Sullivan said, referring to the presidents of China and Russia. “How dumb can we be, man?”