The Senate on Thursday avoided a blockade imposed by a Republican senator and confirmed Admiral Lisa Franchetti to lead the United States Navy, making her the first woman to head a Pentagon service and the first woman to serve in the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The measure was reached despite a blockade attempted by Senator Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, who opposed the Pentagon’s policy of facilitating travel for women seeking abortions.
Franchetti’s historic confirmation as chief of naval operations comes as Tuberville has received bipartisan criticism for delaying nearly 400 military nominations. In a rare display, several angry Republican senators took the floor for more than four hours on Wednesday night and called a vote on 61 of the nominations, praising each candidate for their military service. Tuberville showed no signs of giving up, standing up and opposing each other.
The Senate confirmed Franchetti by an overwhelming 95-1 vote. Senators are scheduled to confirm two more top officials Thursday: Gen. David Allvin as chief of staff of the US Air Force and Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney as deputy commandant of the United States Marine Corps.
If his appointment is confirmed, Mahoney will immediately hold the role of acting commander, temporarily taking over after Gen. Eric Smith, the commander, was hospitalized Sunday after suffering a medical emergency at his official residence in Washington.
Smith, who is now in stable condition and recovering, was confirmed for the top job last month, but for several months he held two senior positions because of Tuberville’s delays.
When Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced this week’s vote on Mahoney’s nomination to be deputy commander, he said Smith’s sudden medical emergency was “exactly the kind of preventable emergency that challenged by Sen. Tuberville in his unquestioning delay. “