Senate lawmakers on Tuesday evening confirmed 11 senior military nominees that had been stalled for months, putting an end to the nearly year-long political blockade by Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville which had created leadership problems across the Defense Department.
Tuberville earlier this month lifted his hold on more than 400 nominees whom he had blocked due to his objections over the military abortion access policies. At the time, he said he would keep his hold on the 11 four-star nominees in a continuation of that protest, but he relented this week amid additional pressure from Democratic and Republican leaders.
The individuals confirmed in group vote include the heads of three combatant commands and the second-ranking official for four of the five military services. They are:
- Air Force Lt. Gen. Kevin B. Schneider, nominated to be commander of Pacific Air Forces;
- Air Force Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach, nominated to be head of Air Combat Command;
- Air Force Lt. Gen. Gregory M. Guillot, nominated to be head of U.S. Northern Command;
- Air Force Lt. Gen. Timothy D. Haugh, nominated to be head of U.S. Cyber Command;
- Air Force Lt. Gen. James C. Slife, nominated to be Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force;
- Army Lt. Gen. James J. Mingus, nominated to be Vice Chief of Staff of the Army;
- Navy Vice Adm. James W. Kilby, nominated to be Vice Chief of Naval Operations;
- Navy Vice Adm. Stephen T. Koehler, nominated to be head of U.S. Pacific Fleet;
- Navy Vice Adm. William J. Houston, nominated to be director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program;
- Space Force Lt. Gen. Michael A. Guetlein, nominated to be Vice Chief of Space Operations;
- and Space Force Lt. Gen. Stephen N. Whiting, to be head of U.S. Space Command.
Pentagon officials in recent days had said the positions are critical for national security and had urged senators to find a way to get them confirmed before the end of the year.
The Senate was scheduled to leave town last week, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., extended the chamber’s session by a few days in part to get the military confirmations cleared.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.