The US Navy became the third branch of the US armed forces on Monday to no longer have a Senate-confirmed leader, for the first time in the country’s history, since a Republican senator continues to stand in the way of military appointments.

More than 300 military appointments, in various places, they have been blocked in the Senate by Tommy Tamperville, a senator from Alabama who is thus protesting the efforts of the military to ensure access to abortion services for all its staff. The Senate can get past the Tamperville “barrier” but will have to hold votes on each appointment separately. This process takes a long time, since appointments are usually approved unanimously, without a vote. The senator is asking the Pentagon to stop providing financial support to female soldiers who must travel to another state to get an abortion after some states banned the practice about a year ago.

Retired Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday handed over command today. The Navy, Army and Marine Corps it is now without Senate-approved leadership.

“This is something unprecedented. It’s unnecessary. And it’s not safe,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during a ceremony at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

“This sweeping obstacle undermines America’s military readiness. It hinders our ability to retain our best officers and disrupts the lives of too many American military families,” Austin added.

President Joe Biden has nominated Admiral Lisa Francesetti to lead the Navy, a historic step that breaks down gender barriers in the U.S. armed forces. If the Senate confirms the nomination, Francesetti will become the first woman to command the US Navy and join the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Until then, he will lead the Navy as acting chief.