Senate passes bill giving retroactive pay bump to service members impacted by Tommy Tuberville’s hold

WASHINGTON — Senators passed a bill Thursday that would give a retroactive pay increase to service members who were affected by Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s monthslong hold on military promotions.

The measure passed by unanimous consent, meaning all 100 senators agreed and no roll call vote was needed.

“Tonight at last we’re giving these military families, families that have already sacrificed so much, the justice they deserve — their back pay,” said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on the Senate floor. “America is keeping its promise and saying to these men and women, ‘You served us well. You don’t deserve to be penalized in any way at all.’”

The bill was spearheaded by a bipartisan group: Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; and Angus King, I-Maine, who caucuses with Democrats. Tuberville also signed on as a co-sponsor.

Tuberville, R-Ala., dropped the bulk of his blockade on more than 400 military promotions last week, ending a 10-month protest against a Defense Department abortion policy. The Senate promptly confirmed 425 military nominees after Tuberville’s hold was lifted.

Under the Pentagon’s policy, which remains in place, service members can get reimbursed for the cost of traveling to get an abortion.

The Alabama senator faced bipartisan and bicameral criticism of his blockade, including from Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas.

The Senate-passed bill now heads to the House, though lawmakers are not scheduled to return to the chamber for votes until next month.