Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger retired on Monday after more than 40 years of service. His successor, Gen. Eric Smith, has not taken over due to Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Alabama) block on all military nominations. Tuberville is protesting a military policy that allows service members to travel out of state to receive abortions.

This marks the first time in more than a century that the U.S. Marines do not have a confirmed leader. While Smith will have the authority to do the job, he will be left without a second-in-command because of Tuberville’s hold.

“This needs to get resolved,” Berger said in an interview. “We need to leave the military out of the politics of it. The whole department, the military people wearing a uniform, should not be drug into an issue that’s a policy issue, for which we don’t deal. The military uniform people that we want left out [of] politics are being dragged into it, and that’s not healthy at all.”

Tuberville is currently stalling the nominations of more than 200 general and flag officers in the Pentagon. The process to approve the officers is usually a simple one, but Tuberville’s block has resulted in the Senate voting on each nomination individually, an undertaking that has been drawn out for months.

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Berger explained that Tuberveille’s actions are only hurting the U.S. military’s status as a “world leader.”

“When a world leader can’t promote its officers on a regular basis — kind of like when [you] can’t pass a budget — confidence goes down,” he said.

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