Between the crisis in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war, patience for Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s blockade is wearing thin on Capitol Hill. The Alabama Republican has nevertheless said he has no intention of abandoning his blockade, regardless of the circumstances, and his spokesperson added the right-wing senator would only shift gears if the Pentagon gave in to Tuberville’s demands and ended reimbursement benefits for U.S. troops.
It was against this backdrop that The Washington Post reported last week that Democrats are moving forward with new plans to circumvent the Alabaman’s blockade. A day later, as The Hill reported, Tuberville responded to the efforts in a deeply strange way.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), who has held up more than 360 military promotions and created a stalemate that has consumed the Senate for months, claimed the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East were “created” by Democrats.
That account might seem hard to believe, but it’s actually what the GOP senator said, out loud and on camera.
“They need to be worried about what’s going on in Ukraine, the Middle East, the wars that their side, the Democrats and Joe Biden, have created but you know, they want to circumvent the rules in the Senate.”
So, a few things.
First, Democrats didn’t “create” the crises in Ukraine and the Middle East. Tuberville, among other things, serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which means he really ought to know this simple truth.
Second, Democrats are “worried about” these international crises, which is why they want to confirm pending U.S. military nominees. This really isn’t complicated.
Third, Democrats don’t “want to circumvent the rules in the Senate,” so much as they want to allow the Senate to vote on military confirmations. It’s Tuberville’s abuse of the rules that is standing in the way.
It’s an open question as to whether the coach-turned-politician actually appreciates these details. In fact, the senator told CNN over the weekend, “This administration would rather burn the Senate down and that’s what would happen. … If you change the rules of the Senate then it lasts forever. So they would rather burn down the Senate than negotiate.”
But the closer one looks, the less sense this makes. As the Post’s report explained, the Democratic plan “would not require a permanent rule change that would alter senators’ individual power to slow nominations in the future,” despite Tuberville’s insistence to the contrary.
What’s more, the administration has repeatedly reached out to the Republican about working toward a solution, but to date, the senator has said he expects to be rewarded in exchange for his radical tactics — and what he wants is fewer benefits for U.S. troops.
That’s not a price the White House is willing to pay.
Steve Benen is a producer for “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the editor of MaddowBlog and an MSNBC political contributor. He’s also the bestselling author of “The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics.”