Tuberville Defends Nominee Hold from Democrat Attacks

“We’re talking about taxpayers’ funding for travel and extra paid time to get elective abortions.”

“Every single one of these nominees can receive a vote in the Senate if Senator Schumer wants it.”

“It’s not too much to ask of the United States Senate to do its job — to vote.”

“I am not going to be intimidated by a campaign of selective outrage.”

WASHINGTON — Today, for the third time, Senate Democrats attempted to circumvent U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) hold on all U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) general and flag officer nominations before the U.S. Senate. 

Senator Tuberville is following through on a pledge he made to hold the confirmation of DoD nominees if the Pentagon moved forward with its radical new policy of funding travel and paid time off for service members and their dependents seeking an elective abortion.

Senator Tuberville again reiterated why he believes the DoD’s new policy that expands taxpayer-subsided abortions is illegal, and pushed back against Democrats’ baseless attacks.

Senator Tuberville’s hold forces the Senate to consider and vote on the nominations by regular order instead of approving them in batches by unanimous consent. Senator Tuberville has no intention of lifting his hold as long as the DoD’s illegal abortion policy is in place.

Senator Tuberville’s hold does not prevent any nominee from being confirmed. The nominations can still move forward if U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) deems them important enough to put on the floor for a vote.

Excerpts from Senator Tuberville’s remarks can be found below, and his complete remarks can be found here.

“It’s not very often that the majority leader of the Senate attacks a single senator by name three days in a row. 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.”

“First of all, I’m not blocking anyone from being confirmed. 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.”

“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. 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.”

“Democrats are in a panic about 184 promotions for generals and officers. 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.”

“We’re talking about taxpayers’ funding for travel and extra paid time to get elective abortions…This policy includes spouses and dependents. 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.”

“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. 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. Earlier today 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.”

“I don’t mind working a full week. I’ve had a full-time job. 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.”


Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June 2022, the Department of Defense claimed in a memorandum that the ruling would “have significant implications for…the readiness of the Force,” but provided no evidence to support this conclusion. On July 15, 2022, Senator Tuberville and Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) sent a letter calling on Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to justify the assertion. The letter went unanswered.

On October 20, 2022, Secretary Austin released another memorandum entitled “Ensuring Access to Reproductive Health Care.”  The memo outlined the Department of Defense’s intent to develop policy, procedures, and programs to expand taxpayer-subsided abortion in the military beyond what is currently allowed under federal law

On November 28, 2022, Senator Tuberville and his Republican SASC colleagues sent an additional letter to Secretary Austin asking him to explain the October memo and the Department of Defense’s justification for the potential expansion of its abortion policy. In the letter, the senators warned, “The Department’s actions send the implicit message to our service members that pregnancy is a liability to the force and our military’s success hinges on access to abortion. This is an egregious mistake.” Again, the letter went unanswered.

The Department of Defense finally scheduled a briefing for Senate offices on November 17, 2022 about the Department’s memorandums and potential policy changes. However, the briefing was abruptly canceled. In response, on December 5, 2022, Senator Tuberville placed a hold on DoD nominations until the Pentagon rescheduled the canceled briefing and responded to questions about the military’s memos on reproductive care.  

Within 24 hours, the DoD rescheduled the staff briefing, and it occurred on December 7, 2022. During the rescheduled briefing for members of Senator Tuberville’s staff, Department of Defense officials revealed their intent to announce a new policy that would cover travel and leave for service members and their dependents seeking abortions. Following the briefing, on December 9, 2022, Senator Tuberville notified Secretary Austin that he would place an additional hold on Department of Defense nominees if the Department implemented its abortion plan, which Senator Tuberville believes is illegal.

The department’s authority to fund abortions is governed by 10 U.S.C. 1093, which limits abortions to cases of rape, incest, or pregnancies that threaten the life of the mother. These rules apply to both service members and their spouses and dependents. Given this provision, the Department of Defense has averaged fewer than 20 abortions per year, with 91 abortions at military facilities occurring between 2016 and 2021. According to a third-party study cited by officials, the number of abortions subsidized by the Department of Defense under the new policy could increase to 4,100 annually — 205 times the number of abortions performed in recent years.

Without responding to Senator Tuberville’s pledge, Secretary Austin released another memorandum on February 16, 2023 announcing  the formal implementation of the abortion policy to fund travel and paid time off for service members and their dependents seeking an abortion, despite existing law.

On March 8, 2023, Senator Tuberville followed through with his pledge to hold all general and flag officer nominations on the Senate floor. Senator Tuberville defended his hold on the floor again on March 23, 2023. 

Senator Tuberville’s hold forces the Senate to consider and vote on the nominations by regular order instead of approving them in batches by unanimous consent, which can be considerably faster. The nominations can still be approved by the Senate, but the Majority Leader must make additional time for them to be considered on the floor.

Contrary to claims by Democrats, Senator Tuberville’s hold is not unprecedented. The tactic has been threatened and used by senators from both parties for decades. Just a few weeks ago, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) threatened to hold Pentagon nominees because he was upset his home state lost a competition to house U.S. Space Command headquarters — to Alabama. Despite what Senator Bennet has said on the Senate floor, this hold would have affected six nominees.

Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.