Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) certainly sent a message in recent months when he remained committed to holding up defense nominees as a result of an “illegal” policy from the Pentagon to provide abortions. He’s reminded that he remains committed to the pro-life position and following the rule of law when he led a bipartisan, bicameral resolution to prevent the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from forcing taxpayers to fund abortions at their medical facilities. The vote took place on Wednesday, and while the it narrowly failed 48-51, it has nevertheless gained attention form both sides of the abortion issue.
The resolution, which was introduced alongside Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX) in February, was necessary due to an announcement from the VA last September. The announcement detailed how abortions would be provided for veterans and their dependents through the taxpayer-funded VA health care system, leading to criticism that the Biden administration was continuing with its obsessive pro-abortion crusade in yet another manner that has been called illegal. Tuberville had also made clear his opposition by joining a letter with 38 congressional colleagues in a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough.
A press release from the VA detailed abortions being provided based on health of the mother, in addition to in cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother. The press release also noted, with added emphasis, that “VA employees, when working within the scope of their federal employment, may provide authorized services regardless of state restrictions.”
Last year’s announcement was in violation the Veterans Healthcare Act of 1992, which is clear in that it permits the VA to provide “general reproductive health care…but not including…abortions,” though the interim final rule has tried to claim otherwise. In his remarks from the Senate floor, Tuberville emphasized that performing abortions was “something the VA has never, ever done before.” He also reminded that “the VA has been prohibited–by the body– from performing abortions at its facilities for more than 30 years,” due to that law passed by Congress.
Tuberville also warned though that “the VA won’t even tell Congress if they are placing any restrictions on abortions,” and “has refused to cooperate with Congress throughout this whole process,” in addition to “very limited moral protections for VA medical staff.”
Speaking to both the importance of the rule of law and the issue of taxpayer-funded abortion, Tuberville reiterated that “taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for abortions. Especially not when this was done without anybody taking a vote in this building. Especially not when Congress voted to make it illegal 30 years ago. It’s illegal and it’s wrong.”
The resolution isn’t merely about abortion though, as Tuberville emphasized throughout, and in closing.
“Anyone who believes in the appropriations process must oppose this rule and support this resolution. Voting ‘no’ would mean letting the administration spend money without the consent of the people in this room. And that’s what we’re elected to do. Voting ‘no’’means a big stamp of approval for a blatantly-illegal regulation,” he said. “The VA should be focused on their mission. Lord knows we’ve got veterans who need help right now.”
The Congressional Review Act (CRA) gives members of Congress the ability to disapprove of rules from federal agencies, which will mean the rule has no force or effect under the law.
Though the resolution failed, it did gain bipartisan support thanks to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who also spoke alongside Tuberville and other pro-life senators during Wednesday’s press conference.
While Manchin voted for the resolution, Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine voted against it. Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, which supported the resolution, also scored the vote. The group also spoke to the morality of taxpayer funding of abortion, while also calling out the Biden administration.
“The Biden administration will stop at nothing to impose abortion on demand until birth nationwide, even violating state and federal laws to do so. Instead of providing our veterans with compassionate care and help, they are using taxpayer dollars to turn VA hospitals into abortion centers, even in states that have pro-life laws on the books,” said SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “The strong majority of Americans do not want their taxpayer dollars to fund the destruction of unborn children. Instead of listening to the will of the people and upholding current laws, Biden works with the abortion lobby to impose their radical pro-abortion agenda nationwide. We will continue to expose this extremism and hold them accountable to the American people.”
Although the resolution did not make it to President Joe Biden’s desk, he had nevertheless taken notice and the White House threatened he would veto it. A statement claimed that the resolution “undermines patient safety and invites political interference into deeply personal decisions made by pregnant veterans and CHAMPVA beneficiaries in consultation with their health care providers, threatening their health and lives.”
Tuberville tweeted out coverage from The Hill, sharing that he was “Glad Joe Biden has taken notice of my resolution we’re voting on today.”