“Senator Schumer could have confirmed these nominees a long time ago.”
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) delivered remarks on the Senate floor after Chuck Schumer caved and brought three individual military nominations to the floor for a vote, despite previously saying he wouldn’t. Since February, Senator Tuberville has imposed a blanket hold on senior military promotions over the Biden Administration’s illegal taxpayer-funded abortion related travel policy. Coach Tuberville has repeatedly said that Schumer can bring these nominations to the floor or get the Pentagon to reverse their illegal policy.
On Tuesday, Senator Tuberville announced plans to force a vote to confirm the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Not even 24 hours later, Senator Schumer gave in and filed cloture on three military nominees.
Coach’s policy has not changed and his hold on remaining nominees remains in effect. Senator Schumer can either get the Pentagon to reverse their illegal policy, or he can bring each nominee before the floor for a vote.
Read excerpts from the speech below or watch here.
“Two hours ago, Senator Schumer announced that we will be voting on the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Army Chief of Staff, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It’s about time. I have called for individual votes on these nominees for almost 6 months. Instead of voting, Democrats have spent months complaining about having to vote. They want to use floor time for things like liberal judges—like the one we confirmed a couple hours ago. Senator Schumer could have confirmed these nominees a long, long time ago.
We have had more than 80 days off this year in the Senate, NOT including weekends. Yet Senator Schumer is outraged that we are voting on these nominations. As I have noted before, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was given a floor vote in 2018. The current nominee for that position, General Brown, was given a floor vote for his current position not long ago. Despite what Senator Reed and others have said, there is nothing wrong with a floor vote on these nominations.
I ran for Senate so I could vote on behalf of the people of the state of Alabama. I didn’t come up here just to outsource my job to the Pentagon or the White House. Yet, that’s exactly what the Democrats want to do. That is the current position of Senate Democrats. The Constitution says we make the laws here in Congress—not in the Pentagon, and not in the White House.
Now, this is not about me. It’s about the Senate and the Constitution. This is a win today for the legislative branch of government. Voting gives all Senators a voice for their constituents. The Constitution says the Senate is to “advise and consent” to the President’s nominations. Over the last six months, Democrats in this chamber have actually complained that the Senate has TOO MUCH power. Senator Schumer made reference this afternoon to proposals by Democrats to make the Senate WEAKER. Senate Democrats have been more than happy to go along with Executive Overreach when a Democrat is in the Oval Office. […]
If Democrats want to complain then they should look in the mirror. I don’t control the Senate floor—the Democrats do. In a typical week, we work three days. Those aren’t the kind of hours people are working back in my home state of Alabama. This is one of the least productive Senates in our lifetimes. Democrats can’t have it both ways. Either they can confirm these nominees through regular order, or they can stop complaining about acting officials.
Democrats say this is a large backlog of nominees. They say it would take a long time. Well, I agree. It’s been a big backlog. But again, Chuck Schumer allowing the backlog to build up over six months is his fault. We could have been confirming one or two a week for the last 200 days. It would have taken us just four hours of voting each week. But we didn’t do it. We took another angle of just sitting back and watching. Chuck Schumer refused again, and again, and again. We don’t have a lack of leadership in our military—we have a lack of leadership right here in the United States Senate. Despite the lack of leadership, Senators are perfectly capable of voting. Voting is our job. That’s why we were sent here.
So, to be clear, my hold is still in place. The hold will remain in place as long as the Pentagon’s illegal abortion policy remains in place. If the Pentagon lifts the policy, then I will lift my hold. It’s as easy as that. That’s been my position from the very beginning. I am not afraid to vote on these nominees or on ALL of these nominees. I came here to this chamber to vote. And I reserve the right to seek another cloture petition on the nominees in the future. So that’s where we stand today.”
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 February 16, 2023, Senator Tuberville followed through with his pledge to hold all general and flag officer nominations on the Senate floor.
On July 28, 2023, Senator Tuberville sent a letter to the Pentagon requesting more information about how the illegal policy is being used. As of September 20, 2023, he has not heard back.
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. The nominations can still be approved by the Senate, but have to be brought to the floor individually. On September 20, 2023, Chuck Schumer caved and did exactly what Coach has been asking him to do by bringing nominations before the Senate 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 this summer, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) threatened to hold Pentagon nominees over a dispute about the location for the U.S. Space Command headquarters. Despite what Senator Bennet has said on the Senate floor, this hold would have affected six nominees.
Senator Tuberville’s efforts have received strong support from conservative leaders, including Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-MO), Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC), Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD), Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Vice President Mike Pence, Governor Ron Desantis, Governor Doug Burgum, Dr. Ben Carson, Founder of American Cornerstone Institute; Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of Susan B. Anthony Pro-life America; Brian Burch, President of CatholicVote.org; Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council; Kevin Roberts, President of The Heritage Foundation; Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life Action; Jessica Anderson, Executive Director of Heritage Action for America; Brent Bozell, Founder and President of Media Research Center; Morton Blackwell, Chairman of Conservative Leadership PAC; Dean Nelson, Executive Director of Human Coalition Action; Penny Nance, President of Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee; Catherine Glenn Foster, President & CEO of Americans United for Life; Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., President of The Ethics and Public Policy Center; Ken Blackwell, Chairman of Conservative Action Project; Mike Berry, Vice President of External Affairs of First Liberty; Star Parker, Founder and President of Center for Urban Renewal and Education; Paul Teller, Executive Director of Advancing American Freedom; David Bozell, President of For America; Elaine Donnelly, President of Center for Military Readiness; Kelly Shackelford, President/CEO of First Liberty Institute; Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch; Former U.S. Rep. Bob McEwen, Ohio; Diana L. Banister of Sovereign Global Solutions.
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.