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Senate anxiously waits for Tuberville’s next move on military blockade

All eyes are on Sen. Tommy Tuberville this week as senators wait and see if the Alabama Republican will finally relent on his months-long military promotion blockade, which has held up more than 400 promotions and has drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle.

Tuberville — whose hold on military promotions has been in place since February — appeared to soften his stance last week, telling CNN, “We will promote people in the very near future.” He did not, however, disclose how the chamber would move forward with the promotions.

The comments, nonetheless, left senators waiting for Tuberville’s next move, especially as Democrats inch closer to putting a rule change on the floor which, with some GOP support, could roll the Alabama Republican.

Senators this week will also receive a classified briefing on Ukraine, Israel and elements of President Biden’s national security supplemental, as bipartisan border talks — which are meant to unlock a multi-billion dollars national security package — stall.

On the House side, members of the Ways and Means Committee will hear from two IRS whistleblowers as top Republicans eye a vote on solidifying the impeachment inquiry into President BIden. And lawmakers are reeling from the expulsion of former Rep. George Santos, as the ousted New York Republican vows to file ethics complaints against his top critics.

Tuberville watch

Tuberville’s months-long hold on military promotions — which has stalled more than 400 promotions — could finally come to an end this week, after the senator appeared to signal an end to his blockade as he risks getting rolled by his colleagues.

Tuberville, who placed a hold on military promotions as a protest against the Pentagon’s abortion policy, told CNN last week that the Senate is “working towards getting… the promotions over with,” which he said he has “been very much for.”

“We need to get them promoted,” Tuberville said. “I don’t know what they’re gonna do with the resolution, but we’re going through all of the people that are up for promotion. We will promote people in the very near future.”

“This is people that are running our military. I think that we need to make sure that people that are generals and admirals should be vetted to some degree. But also understand that we need to get these people promoted, and it’s been a long time for some of them,” he added.

The resolution referenced by Tuberville is a Democrat-led resolution that would change Senate rules to allow the chamber to push through most nominations as a single bloc. That, however, would require bipartisan support to reach the 60 votes needed to approve the resolution.

Republicans have viewed the resolution as a last-ditch effort to unlock the military promotions if Tuberville does not relent on his own. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, said he will move forward with the resolution if Tuberville doesn’t end the hold by the close of this year.

“Now it sounds like Sen. Tuberville has told Republicans he is trying to find a way out of the mess that he has created, though he has not yet provided many details. We are willing to give our Republican colleagues a chance to solve this problem on their own,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Thursday. “But let me be clear: If Republicans are not able to get Sen. Tuberville to stand down quickly, we are going to hold a vote on our resolution to confirm these nominees before we leave this year. These reckless military holds must come to an end.”

Senate briefing on supplemental as talks continue

Senators will receive a classified briefing on Ukraine, Israel and elements of President Biden’s national security supplemental Tuesday, according to a Senate aide, as the chamber looks to strike a deal that would unlock the roughly $100 billion foreign aid package.

A bipartisan group of senators has engaged in talks on border security for weeks as Republicans demand that immigration policy reforms are included in the supplemental. The White House proposal, meanwhile, includes billions of dollars to bolster security along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Negotiators, however, have struggled to come to a consensus as they navigate the thorny issue of immigration reform, which has bedeviled lawmakers for years. Top negotiators have reported progress on asylum reform to lift the “credible fear” standard for migrants attempting to enter the country, but the bipartisan group has found difficulty when it comes to the question of how to deal with the humanitarian parole system that is used by some migrants.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), the lead GOP negotiator, told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that negotiators are “making progress” on border security talks, adding “we can get this done by the end of the year.”

But he underscored the difficult nature of finding bipartisan consensus on the politically prickly matter of immigration.

“There’s a reason that this hasn’t been done in decades, because it’s hard. It’s very technical work, and there’s a lot of challenges that are in it. And anytime you deal with border security, there are a lot of complicating features in this,” he told ABC. “So we’re going through very, very detailed work; very, very detailed law. But the most important thing is to be able to get this right.”

IRS whistleblowers to testify as House eyes impeachment inquiry vote

Two IRS whistleblowers are set to testify privately before the House Ways and Means Committee this week, as the GOP conference eyes a vote on solidifying its impeachment inquiry into Biden.

The hearing — a closed-door executive session scheduled for Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. — will feature comments from IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, who previously appeared before the committee and alleged that authorities slow-walked the case and showed preferential treatment to Hunter Biden, the president’s son. It will be the third executive session the committee has held with the pair of whistleblowers.

The committee wrote in an advisory last week last week that it is convening the executive session “to consider additional evidence supporting their previous testimony in front of the Ways and Means Committee which exposed President Biden’s involvement in his family’s influence peddling scheme, as well as how IRS investigators were blocked from pursuing any investigative lead that would have led them to Joe Biden.”

The hearing comes as the House eyes a vote on solidifying its impeachment inquiry into Biden, which leadership told members could happen in the coming weeks, sources told The Hill. Top lawmakers are looking at an official vote to bolster the inquiry’s authority as the White House criticizes the probe as “lacking constitutional legitimacy.”

Then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) opened the impeachment inquiry without a vote in September, as then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did in 2019 when she launched proceedings against then-President Trump. Roughly one month after, however, Pelosi held a formal vote to solidify the probe.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) called holding a vote on the impeachment inquiry a “necessary step” during an interview with Fox News on Saturday and expressed confidence that it would pass.

“A formal impeachment inquiry vote on the floor will allow us to take it to the next necessary step, and I think it’s something we have to do at this juncture,” he said.

House reels from Santos expulsion

The House this week is reeling from the expulsion of former Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), which narrowed the GOP conference’s already thin majority as the chamber barrels toward a number of heavy legislative lifts.

But even though Santos is no longer a member, he is still making news on Capitol Hill.

The embattled New York Republican announced after his historic expulsion that he would file ethics complaints on Monday against a handful of his ex-Empire State colleagues.

He said he is filing a complaint against Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) — whom he dubbed “Nicole MalioStockTips” — in regards to her “questionable stock trading;” against Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) for “questionable campaign finance violations;” and against Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.), whom he called a “traditional meathead” last week, for an allegation that the New Yorker was a “no-show” at his previous job.

Santos is also targeting Rep. Rob Menendez (D-N.J.), announcing that he will file a complaint against the congressman regarding “his involvement with his fathers overseas dealing over the years and any potential compensation he received” after the New Jersey Democrat’s father, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was indicted on one charge of acting as a foreign agent of Egypt, in addition to other federal charges alleging that he accepted luxurious bribes in exchange for his political influence.

Santos said he plans to submit complaints to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent and nonpartisan body that reviews ethics complaints and refers matters to the Ethics Committee when deemed appropriate.

Al Weaver contributed.

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