The Senate voted 83 to 11 to confirm Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, circumventing a months-long blockade by Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville.
Brown is the first of three generals set to be confirmed to positions after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., set up a process to force votes on their nominations. The Senate is also poised to vote on the nominations of Gen. Eric Smith to be commandant of the Marine Corps and Gen. Randy George to be chief of staff of the Army.
Tuberville has been blocking hundreds of nominees who would normally be approved in large batches with significant bipartisan support.
He is holding up the nominations over his objections to an unrelated Pentagon policy to help military service members travel to receive abortion care if they are stationed in a location where abortion rights are restricted.
Democrats had previously been unwilling to consider using the tactic of voting on nominees one by one, choosing instead to try to force Tuberville to back down from his demands. Tuberville has said he plans to maintain his blockade of the remaining hundreds of promotions.
John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, told reporters earlier on Wednesday that the move by the Senate was positive, but doesn't solve the larger problem.
"It doesn't fix the problem or provide a path forward for the 316 other general and flag officers that are held up by this ridiculous hold," Kirby said.
He added that the progress on these nominations was "good for the United States Marines, certainly good for the United States Army and good for the joint staff. But it ain't good enough for U.S. national security. These holds need to be lifted all, of them."