Biden's pick as top US commander could be delayed by senator's blockade


WASHINGTON, May 25 (Reuters) - A Republican senator's hold on military nominations will apply to Democratic President Joe Biden's selection of Air Force chief General Charles Q. Brown as the country's top military officer, who was chosen amid mounting U.S. concern over security threats from Russia and China.

A spokesman for Senator Tommy Tuberville said Brown's nomination would be affected because the hold applies to all high-level promotions.

Tuberville has blocked more than 150 military nominations from moving forward for months because he believes the Pentagon is improperly using government funding to cover travel costs for abortions for service members and their dependents.

After the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling recognizing a constitutional right to abortion, the Pentagon said it would cover travel costs for service members seeking abortions and up to 21 days off.

Several states have limited abortion access since Roe v. Wade was overturned, and the military argues that women service members cannot choose where they are stationed.

The Senate's approval of military promotions is usually smooth, with lawmakers agreeing to let them go ahead quickly. Tuberville's hold cannot prevent the Democratic-majority Senate from voting on any promotion, but it can drastically slow down the process.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sonali Paul

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Patricia Zengerle has reported from more than 20 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China. An award-winning Washington-based national security and foreign policy reporter who also has worked as an editor, Patricia has appeared on NPR, C-Span and other programs, spoken at the National Press Club and attended the Hoover Institution Media Roundtable. She is a recipient of the Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence.