“This was the Biden administration’s choice. I’m keeping my word.”
“This goes beyond what the law allows.”
WASHINGTON — In keeping with a pledge he made to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin last December, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) yesterday objected to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) attempt to pass military promotions through the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent. In February, Senator Tuberville placed a “hold” on all U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) general and flag officer nominations over the department’s newpolicy of funding travel and paid time off for service members and their dependents seeking an elective abortion.
Senator Tuberville believes the DoD is circumventing the role of Congress and flouting existing federal law, which narrowly restricts the use of taxpayer funds and DoD facilities being used to provide or facilitate abortions for service members.
This is the fourth time Senator Tuberville has thwarted Democrats from breaking his hold on these nominations, a position he explained in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal earlier this month. U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) joined Senator Tuberville in speaking to keep the hold in place, highlighting the growing support for Senator Tuberville.
Excerpts from Senator Tuberville’s remarks can be found below, and his complete remarks can be found here.
“I want to start by reminding everyone why this is happening. It’s not about abortion. It’s not about the Dobbs decision. This is about a tyrannical Executive Branch walking all over the United States Senate — and doing our jobs. In November, I got word that the Pentagon was thinking about spending taxpayer dollars to facilitate elective abortions. This goes beyond what the law allows. The law only allows the Department of Defense to facilitate and fund abortions in the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. I warned Secretary Austin that if he did this, I would put a hold on his highest-level nominees. Secretary Austin went through with the policy anyway in February of this year. So, I am keeping my word.”
“Secretary Austin thought abortion is more important than his highest-level military nominations. Secretary Austin could end the policy today, and I would lift my hold. Secretary Austin has chosen not to do that. This is the fourth time that Democrats have come to the floor to try to break this hold. I will come down here as many times as it takes.”
“Democrats keep repeating the same talking points — and the same opinion. But not one of them has cited any facts. Not one. I’ve even asked the Pentagon to explain to me how this affects readiness. All I’ve heard is opinions.”
“My hold has no effect on readiness. None. In an Armed Services Committee hearing last week, Chairman Reed asked two of the military’s top combatant commanders what impact would my hold gave on readiness. Admiral John Aquilino said, quote, ‘no impact.’ General Paul LaCamera agreed. There is no impact on readiness or operations.”
“Last week, a report showed that the Army, Navy, and Air Force are all — all of them — are preparing to miss their recruitment goals again this year…They’ll miss their goals by thousands and thousands of new service members. Yet I don’t hear the Democrats say a word about that. They’re worried about 180 top generals and admirals. We have plenty of generals. When my dad served in WWII, we had one general for every 6,000 troops. Think about that. Now, we have one general from every 1,400 enlisted service members. That’s more than four times the ratio of generals to troops…We won plenty of wars with a lower ratio.”
“Today, we have more admirals than we do ships. Let me repeat that. We have more admirals in our military [than] we gave ships. Yet, the Democrat side of the aisle is in a panic that we don’t have enough admirals. It just doesn’t make sense.”
“And let me remind my colleagues: we just voted on — a confirmed — last week.. a military nominee…Clearly, we are capable of voting on military nominees. We can also be voting on legislation that expands the DoD’s abortion policy…In fact, that’s how this should be done in a democracy.”
“I gave the Pentagon fair warning. I told them, if they imposed this policy on our country then I would hold these nominees. They chose to go forward with this policy anyway. They forced my hand. This was the Biden administration’s choice. I’m keeping my word. And that is why I object.”
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 policy, 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 & 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.