U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville on Tuesday vowed to keep his hold on Department of Defense nominees over his objections to the agency’s new abortion policy as Sen. Elizabeth Warren became the latest Democrat to slam Tuberville’s stance.
“I want to start by reminding everyone why this is happening. It’s not about abortion. It’s not about the Dobbs decision. This is about a tyrannical executive branch walking all over the United States Senate — and doing our jobs,” Alabama’s senior senator said Tuesday on the Senate floor, referring to the Defense Department’s policies that allow service members to request administrative absence for “non-covered reproductive health services,” which includes elective abortions and IVF, for themselves or to accompany their partners. The policies also provide transportation allowances to travel to states where reproductive care is more expansive.
Tuberville contends that the policies are unlawful and that current law only allows the agency to fund abortions in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother is threatened.
“I warned [Defense] Secretary Austin that if he did this … I would put a hold on his highest-level nominees. Secretary Austin went through with the policy anyway in February of this year. So, I am keeping my word,” the senator said. “This was Secretary Austin’s choice, not mine. he knew the consequences for several months.”
Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, attempted to break Tuberville’s hold, claiming the move damages military readiness.
She also said Tuberville could introduce legislation to reverse the agency’s policies instead of putting a hold on 186 military nominees.
“That is how democracy works,” she said.
But Tuberville stayed firm.
“I’m not going to budge,” he said. “I will come here as many times as it takes, day and night, to vote.”
He also said the military readiness argument from Warren and other Democrats who criticized the holds, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, is not valid.
“Democrats keep repeating the same talking points — and the same opinion. But not one of them has cited any facts. Not one. I’ve even asked the Pentagon to explain to me how this affects readiness. All I’ve heard is opinions,” he said. “My hold has no effect on readiness. None. In an Armed Services Committee hearing last week, Chairman Reed asked two of the military’s top combatant commanders what impact would my hold gave on readiness. Admiral John Aquilino said, quote, ‘no impact.’ General Paul LaCamera agreed. There is no impact on readiness or operations.”
Tuberville also cited numerous news articles going back a decade maintaining that the military is “top heavy.”
“We do not suffer from a lack of generals,” he said.
And while Democrats complain about Tuberville’s delay in confirming military nominees, the senator said those Democrats have “little to no concern” about the military “recruitment crisis,” pointing out that the military missed its recruitment goal last year by 20,000 enlisted soldiers.