“I will stay here till hell freezes over.”
Those were the words of Sen. Tommy Tuberville on the Senate floor Thursday while defending his decision to continue to place a hold on appointments of general and flag officers.
Tuberville (R-Auburn) said he is enforcing the holds to keep the Pentagon from enacting a policy that funds travel and paid time off for members of the military and their dependents who are seeking an elective abortion. To follow through with its new policy, the Pentagon is funding the costs of the abortions with taxpayer generated revenue, he said.
“We’re talking about taxpayers’ funding for travel and extra paid time to get elective abortions … This policy includes spouses and dependents,” Tuberville said. “We’re talking about taxpayer funding for somebody’s kids to go get an abortion in another state. This has never been in the policy until now.”
The Senator also addressed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for “attacking” him over the holds.
“It’s not very often that the Majority Leader of the Senate attacks a single senator by name three days in a row,” Tuberville said. “Now, in in my former profession, I’ve been called everything. It doesn’t really bother me too much. But the Majority Leader has also tweeted about me. That’s good. So, let’s get the record straight as we speak. Right now, I want to talk about what I have done and what I am doing.”
Tuberville’s holds forces the Senate to consider and vote on nominations by regular order instead of approving them in groups by unanimous consent. The holds do not keep any nominee from being confirmed. The individual nominations can be brought to the Senate floor for a vote.
“First of all, I’m not blocking anyone from being confirmed,” he said. “Every single one of these nominees can receive a vote if Senator Schumer wants it. In fact, one of the civilian nominees is getting a vote this week. If Democrats are so worried about these nominations, let’s vote. If we’re not going to vote on taxpayer-funded abortion, then let’s vote on these nominees.
“Voting is our job. It’s not too much to ask of the United States Senate to do its job — to vote.”
Tuberville also denounced the idea that placing holds on military appointments had never happened before, citing Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).
“Senator Schumer and some of the other senators have claimed that my hold on these nominees is unprecedented. Well, it’s not. My hold is far from unprecedented,” Tuberville said. “In fact, Senator Bennet himself threatened to do the exact same thing just a few months ago. Why? Because the Air Force’s planned to move Space Command from Colorado to Huntsville, Alabama.
“Two years ago, we had a senator from Illinois put a hold on 1,000 nominees over the promotion of one single officer. So far, my hold has affected 184 nominations.”
Tuberville spoke about the military’s recruiting crisis, saying that Democrats should be far more concerned over missing the recruitment of thousands of soldiers rather than a hold on close to a couple hundred generals and officers.
“Democrats are in a panic about 184 promotions for generals and officers,” he said. “Yet I have not heard a word from them about the 15,000 enlisted soldiers we’re missing right now from last year’s recruiting class. That’s an entire division.
“There’s another 8,600 who were discharged over the president’s vaccine mandate. Kicked out. I don’t hear a word about them from the Democrats. So, the military is down 23,000 enlisted soldiers due to the actions of the Biden administration and his secretary of defense just this past year. Yet Democrats are worried about 184 generals getting their promotions? Only one of those things threatens our security. It is not the officer promotions.”
According to Tuberville, Alabamian taxpayers have been contacting him with support regarding the holds. He mentioned one particular example.
“This morning, I received an email from a soldier’s mom in Alabama. She said her son has had to pay thousands of dollars out of his own pocket to buy uniforms and bedsheets,” Tuberville said. “She said it is absurd to force taxpayers to pay for travel for abortions while our troops — our troops — are paying out of pocket for their uniforms. She’s right. She’s exactly right. And that’s what this is about.
“… Senator Schumer said this is about women making their own choices. That’s not true. That is exactly not true. This is about taxpayer funding.”
Tuberville made clear that he will not be backing down on keeping the holds in place.
“I don’t mind working a full week. I’ve had a full-time job,” he said. “I’ve worked all my life. I will stay here until hell freezes over. I am not going to be intimidated by a campaign of selective outrage. And let me remind the chairman: I gave the Pentagon fair warning. They chose to go forward with this policy … This was the Biden Administration’s choice. I’m keeping my word.”
Tuberville’s holds forces the Senate to consider and vote on nominations by regular order instead of approving them in groups by unanimous consent. The holds do not keep any nominee from being confirmed. Schumer can bring individual nominations to a vote on the floor.