“Secretary Austin has effectively changed the law and spent money without Congress taking a vote.”
“I have laid out two conditions for me to allow batch approvals of promotions and nominees: either follow the law or change the law.”
“The burden is not on me to undo an illegal policy. The burden is on the Biden administration to follow the law.”
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) penned a new op-ed in The Washington Times today to provide an update on his work to end the Pentagon’s new abortion policy of funding travel and paid time off for service members and their dependents seeking an elective abortion. In the op-ed, Senator Tuberville explains his decision to hold all U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) general and flag officer nominations before the U.S. Senate until Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin drops the policy.
Following through with a pledge he made Secretary Austin in December, Senator Tuberville has blocked seven attempts from Democrats to break his hold since first moving forward with the procedural maneuver in March.
Excerpts from the op-ed can be found below, and the full text is available here.
Standing Up on Abortion to Most Politicized Pentagon in American History
U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville
The Washington Times
May 25, 2023
“I’m refusing to fast-track Pentagon promotions because Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has unilaterally imposed an unlawful abortion policy for our military. Under the new policy, taxpayers are forced to pay for travel and an additional three weeks of paid leave for military servicemembers — and their dependents — to get noncovered, elective abortions. Nobody in Congress voted for this. The Pentagon did it unilaterally in February by sending a policy memo.”
“That’s not how our system is supposed to work. Under the Constitution, Congress writes the laws and Congress directs all federal spending. Yet Secretary Austin has effectively changed the law and spent money without Congress taking a vote. That’s dangerous overreach by the executive branch.”
“I am not stopping any nominee from being promoted or confirmed. They could all be voted upon — if the Senate’s Democratic majority wanted that to happen. Yet Democrats have refused. In fact, they’ve been in a panic, which is why they have tried over and over again to sneak these nominations through using unanimous consent. It is entirely reasonable for the United States Senate to vote on these nominations. Shouldn’t we thoughtfully consider the nominees for some of the most powerful positions in the military?”
“Democrats must think this is good politics. About a month ago, Senator Schumer sent a letter saying my hold was “not a good look for Republicans.” Instead of worrying about what’s “a good look” he should be worried about what’s best for the military and what’s best for the taxpayer. And frankly: what’s actually not a “good look” is Democrats defending an executive branch politicizing the military and overstepping the law. I suspect that if President Trump were in the White House, they would feel differently about the executive branch overstepping its authority.”
“If Democrats want me to drop my hold, then the answer is very simple. I have laid out two conditions for me to allow batch approvals of promotions and nominees: either follow the law or change the law.”
“I’m a man of my word. I will drop my holds as soon as Secretary Austin suspends his memo providing military funds and resources to facilitate unrestricted abortions. The burden is not on me to undo an illegal policy. The burden is on the Biden administration to follow the law.”
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 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 outlining the Department’s intent to develop policies, procedures, and programs to expand taxpayer-subsided abortion in the military beyond what is allowed under federal statute.
On December 9, 2022, Senator Tuberville notified Secretary Austin that he would place a hold on Department of Defense nominees if the Department implemented this abortion plan, which goes even further beyond what is allowed in statute.
On February 16, 2023, Secretary Austin released another memorandum, this one announcing the formal implementation of the abortion policy to fund travel and paid time off for service members and their dependents seeking an abortion.
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’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 the Majority Leader must make additional time for them to be considered on the floor.
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 dependents. Given this provision, the DoD has averaged less than 20 abortions per year, with 91 abortions at DoD facilities occurring between 2016–2021. According to a third-party study, under the new policy, the number of abortions subsidized by taxpayers through the DoD could increase to 4,100 annually — 205 times the number of abortions performed last year.
Senator Tuberville’s efforts have received strong support from conservative leaders, including 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 and 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; John Wahl, Chairman of the Alabama GOP; Stephanie Smith, President and CEO of the Alabama Policy Institute; Kris Ullman, President of Eagle Forum; and Eunice Smith, President of Alabama Eagle Forum.
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.