In keeping with a pledge he made to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin last December, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) today blocked the ninth attempt by Senate Democrats to circumvent his delay of military promotions before the U.S. Senate.
In February, Senator Tuberville placed a “hold” on all U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) general and flag officer nominations over the department’s new policy of funding travel and paid time off for service members and their dependents seeking an elective abortion. This simply requires military nominations and promotions to be processed through regular order rather than in large batches.
Excerpts from Senator Tuberville’s remarks can be found below and a full video is available here.
“This is the ninth time that Democrats have come to the floor to try to break my hold on the Department of Defense’s nominees. This is the ninth time that I’ve come to the floor to keep my word. Since the last time we did this, nothing has changed. And so, my hold will remain in place.”
“Yesterday, the White House Press Secretary was asked why they haven’t reached out to me at all. She said, “I do not know when the last time is they talked to the senator.” I’ll tell you when the last time was — never. The White House has not reached out once in four months. No one has contacted me, there has not been one conversation no path forward. I have spoken to Secretary Austin, outside of Armed Services hearings, exactly once in the last two years. That was a 10-minute phone call — three months ago. He made absolutely no effort to find a compromise in our situation.”
“Many of the claims made about me have been completely false. Many of them. This is no way to negotiate with a colleague — especially in this body, the United States Senate. Frankly this kind of behavior from the Democrats just steels my resolve. The more false claims the Democrats make about me, the more inclined I am to keep the holds in place.”
“But I would note that just yesterday a news story reported correctly that these military positions are being fulfilled by acting officials. These jobs are being done right now. They’re not empty. Four months into this situation, that is obvious that people are doing the job. It is not affecting readiness. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong.”
“I will keep my hold until the Pentagon follows the law [or] Congress changes the law. That’s the way we do it here in the Senate. A ‘show vote’ in committee is not good enough. We can do that all we want. It’s not going to make any difference. An amendment that gets stripped out on the floor by Senator Schumer is not good enough. What I have said from the beginning: either follow the law or change it. Follow the law that we have made in this body, or change the law.”
In May, more than 3,000 veterans and servicemembers sent a letter rejecting the Pentagon’s abortion policy. In the same week, retired Lieutenant General William Boykin and retired Lieutenant Colonel James Carafano penned an op-ed in support of Tuberville’s nominee hold.
Senator Tuberville believes the Pentagon is circumventing the role of Congress and flouting existing federal law, which narrowly restricts the use of taxpayer funds and DoD facilities being used to provide or facilitate abortions for service members.
Following motion on the floor this week, Senator Tuberville has thwarted Democrats from breaking his hold on these nominations nine times, a position he recently explained in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times.
U.S. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS) have previously joined Senator Tuberville in speaking to keep the hold in place, highlighting the growing support for Tuberville’s position. Also in previous weeks, several members of the U.S. House of Representatives came across the Capitol to sit in the Senate chamber in solidarity with Senator Tuberville. Earlier this month, this group included U.S. Representative Jake Ellzey (R-TX-06), a military veteran who served for 20 years as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy.
On the Senate floor, Democrats have repeatedly made false claims that Senator Tuberville’s hold is leaving vacancies in military positions and leadership. That is untrue. No job is going unfilled due to Senator Tuberville’s hold. The military keeps existing officers in place until their replacements are confirmed.