WASHINGTON (NEWSnet/AP) — Republican senators angrily challenged Sen. Tommy Tuberville on his blockade of military officer promotions Wednesday by calling for individual confirmation votes.

The process lasted for about four hours into evening. And while it is the latest step in a monthslong stalemate, it clearly was not enough to resolve the matter.

Tuberville, R-Ala., stood and objected to each nominee — 61 times total, when the night was over — extending his holds on the military confirmations and promotions with no immediate resolution in sight.

But the extraordinary confrontation between Republicans, boiling over almost nine months after Tuberville first announced his holds over a Pentagon abortion policy, escalated the standoff as Defense Department officials have repeatedly said the backlog of officials needing confirmation could endanger national security.

“Why are we putting holds on war heroes?" asked Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, himself a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. “I don't understand.”

Wrapping up for the night at almost 11 p.m., Sullivan said the senators will keep returning to the floor to call up nominations. If the standoff continues and officers leave the military, he said, Tuberville's blockade will be remembered as a "national security suicide mission.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham told Tuberville, who mostly sat quiet and alone as they talked, that he should sue the military if he thinks the policy is illegal. “That’s how you handle these things,” Graham said.

After Tuberville objected to a vote on a two-star general nominated to be a deputy commander in the Air Force, Graham turned and faced him. “You just denied this lady a promotion," Graham said angrily to Tuberville. "You did that.”

Tuberville said Wednesday there is “zero chance” he will drop the holds.

Despite several high-level vacancies and the growing backlog of nominations, he has said he will continue to hold the nominees up unless the Pentagon ends — or puts to a vote in Congress — its new policy of paying for travel when a service member has to go out of state to get an abortion or other reproductive care.

President Joe Biden's administration instituted the policy after the Supreme Court overturned the nationwide right to an abortion, and some states have limited or banned the procedure.

“I cannot simply sit idly by while the Biden administration injects politics in our military from the White House and spends taxpayers' dollars on abortion," Tuberville said.

Showing obvious frustration and frequent flashes of anger, the Republican senators — Sullivan, Graham, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, Indiana Sen. Todd Young and others — read lengthy biographies and praised individual nominees as they called for vote after vote. They said they agree with Tuberville on the policy, but questioned — as Democrats have for months — why he would hold up the highest ranks of the U.S. military.

Sullivan said Tuberville is “100 percent wrong” that his holds are not affecting military readiness. Ernst said the nominees are being used as “political pawns.” Utah Sen. Mitt Romney advised Tuberville to try to negotiate an end to the standoff.

All of them warned that good people would leave military service if the blockade continues.

The GOP effort to move the nominations came after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday morning they are trying another workaround to confirm the officers.

That process could take several weeks and would likely need Republican support to succeed.

“Patience is wearing thin with Senator Tuberville on both sides of the aisle,” Schumer said.

Copyright 2023 NEWSnet and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.