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First woman approved to lead US Navy

Admiral Lisa Franchetti’s candidacy was confirmed after a months-long blockage of nominations by a pro-life senator

The US Senate has confirmed three high-ranking military nominations, including Admiral Lisa Franchetti, who becomes the first woman to lead the Navy. Senator Tommy Tuberville allowed the votes to go through after months of blocking all confirmations in an anti-abortion protest.

Franchetti, 59, was sworn in as the 33rd Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) on Thursday, following a 95-1 vote on Capitol Hill. The four-star admiral also became the first woman granted a seat at the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff. President Joe Biden nominated her in July – reportedly against the advice of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. She has been serving as acting CNO due to Tuberville’s obstruction.

During the same session, lawmakers approved the nomination of General David Allvin as the new Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and General Christopher Mahoney as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Austin welcomed the confirmations and the Senate’s ability to overcome the impasse, saying the three military commanders “have faithfully served their country for decades, and … will continue to be great leaders of our force as they continue to tackle the crucial national security issues of these challenging times.”

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Tuberville has been standing in the way of hundreds of candidacies in an attempt to stop federal funding for expenses facilitating abortions. After the US Supreme Court last year allowed individual states to decide whether to allow abortions on their soil, it became harder for troops deployed in more conservative parts of the country to terminate pregnancies.

The DoD compensates travel expenses of service members, who go to other states for abortions. Tuberville has argued that conservative taxpayers have a right not to fund what they perceive as facilitating a sin.

The position put him at odds not only with the White House, but also with many fellow Republicans, since Tuberville blocked nominations made by them as well. A backlog of over 370 candidates has piled up over nine months.

Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Alaska, was among the senators who berated Tuberville’s actions during a heated debate on the floor on Wednesday.

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“I’m as pro-life as they come, I strongly disagree with what Secretary Austin and President Biden have done with their politicization of the military on a whole host of fronts including the abortion policy,” he said. His message to the military was: “hang in there… We will be coming here every night to try to get you guys confirmed.”

Tuberville appeared defiant after the session and denied claims that his stubbornness was weakening US national security. He told ABC News: “We tend to drag our feet around a little bit.”

Democrats are mulling a temporary change of procedural rules, which would allow circumventing Tuberville. Republican senators circulated a petition proposing the vote to be forced.

The Alabama senator reportedly had a change of mind on Thursday, after General Eric Smith, the Marine Corps commandant, suffered an apparent heart attack.

 

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