Top Marine still in hospital as Senate scrambles to confirm No. 2 post

Sen. Tommy Tuberville is forcing a vote to confirm Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney to the Marines' No. 2 role while the branch's top officer remains hospitalized.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., is working to force a vote to approve the Marine Corps’ No. 2 leader after the service’s top officer was hospitalized after a reported heart attack.

Tuberville’s effort comes after Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric M. Smith was hospitalized Sunday, the Marines Corps announced in a press release, with USNI News reporting that the “medical emergency” the top officer suffered was a heart attack.

Smith had been essentially working the job of both the commandant and the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps amid stalled efforts in the Senate to confirm Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney to the Marines No. 2 role, USNI reported, with Tuberville forcing a hold on unanimous consent votes for Sente military confirmations over a Pentagon policy that reimburses service members who obtain out-of-state abortions.


“I’m trying to keep the White House from playing dictator along with the Pentagon,” Tuberville told Fox News Digital this week, referring to the Senate battle. “Abortion is the No. 1 issue in our country in our lifetime when it comes to social issues, and the American people need to have a say-so now.”

Reached for comment by Fox News Digital on Tuesday, Tuberville’s office did not back down from the hold on unanimous consent votes, saying that the Alabama senator is “praying for a swift recovery” for Smith and noting that Tuberville is “confident in the ability” of Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, a lower ranking officer who was forced into the top role in an interim capacity, “to do the job.”

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But with Smith remaining hospitalized, Tuberville moved Wednesday to force a vote on Mahoney’s confirmation.


“Coach is forcing the Senate to take action,” the office for Tuberville – a retired college football coach – told Fox News Digital in a statement on Wednesday. “Coach got 16 Republican senators to sign a cloture petition to force a vote on the Assistant Commandant.”

Democrats had been reluctant to vote on individual nominees amid Tuberville’s blockade, arguing that it would drag out the process and take up months of Senate floor time. But by gaining enough support among colleagues to invoke cloture, Tuberville was able for force an individual vote on the confirmation of Mahoney.

Tuberville’s office told Fox News Digital that once news became public that Tuberville had enough support to force the issue, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced a vote.

“Coach remains confident in General Heckl in the meantime, but in order to allay any concerns, he has forced this vote on General Mahoney and he reserves the right to force additional votes in the future,” Tuberville’s office said.

According to a Military.com report, Smith remained hospitalized Tuesday and the Marines have so far not provided any updates on his status.

Reached for comment by Fox News Digital, Maj. Jim Stenger, the head spokesperson for Marine Corps headquarters, declined to offer details on Smith’s status or confirm reports that the top general suffered a heart attack.

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“Out of respect for the family’s wishes to remain private, we will not be releasing more information at this time,” Stenger said in a statement. “The Commandant and his family remain in our thoughts and we hope for a quick recovery.”

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