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Senator Sullivan urges Tuberville to stop military promotion block

Republican Senator Dan Sullivan.
Gage Skidmore
Republican Senator Dan Sullivan.

On Nov.15, Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan joined three other Republican colleagues to urge Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama to stop his block of more than four hundred military promotions. Collectively, the senators spoke until 4 a.m the following morning. The block comes as part of a 9-month protest from Tuberville, another Republican, against the Biden administration’s abortion policy.

In an interview with KDLG, Sullivan said that he does not agree with the administration’s policy, which is to pay travel expenses for service members who go out of state to get an abortion. However, he said the blocks punish people who are not involved in setting this policy.

“These officers have nothing to do with the dispute,” he said. “They’re apolitical. Even if they got confirmed, they would not have anything to do with it, they have no authority to resolve the problem.”

He said the officers awaiting promotions had served their country honorably, and that the block was demoralizing.

“It's very obvious right now that the military has a morale and retention problem. This is not helping with morale and retention at all,” he said.

In recent weeks, the Senator has attempted to pass the military promotions one-by-one.

Alaska’s other Senator, Republican Lisa Murkowski, has also condemned Tuberville’s blocks, saying they negatively impact Alaskan families.

On Nov. 14, the Senate Rules Committee advanced a resolution that would allow a simple majority to circumvent Tuberville’s block. The committee voted along party lines, with Democrats pushing the resolution through.

It is unclear whether the Senate will vote on this resolution in the coming weeks, but if introduced, it will take a total of sixty votes – including a minimum of nine Republican votes – to pass.

Alaska has the highest rate of veterans of any state in the country – about 14% of the population. Sullivan, who is a senior colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve and who is self-described as “pro-military,” has a history of supporting both military and veteran rights.

He announced in a November press release that the U.S. Department of Justice has placed caps on trial fees for lawyers representing veterans and family members impacted by water contamination at Camp Lejeune, a Marine base in North Carolina.

Sullivan said that he had worked to get the price caps in place by contacting the Attorney General about the issue when those limits initially failed. According to a press release from the Senator, those price caps limit lawyer fees to between 20% and 25% of the award. He says that as no payouts have been made, no law firm is exempt from these caps.

Update: This headline has been updated for clarity.

Get in touch with the author at or 907-842-2200.

Christina McDermott began reporting for KDLG, Dillingham’s NPR member station, in March 2023. Previously, she worked with KCBX News in San Luis Obispo, California, where she focused on local news and cultural stories. She’s passionate about producing evocative, sound-rich work that informs and connects the public.