Tuberville to Secretary Austin: “I’m not going to let our military be politicized”

Senator Tuberville defends hold on military nominations

WASHINGTON — In a Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearing today, U.S. Senator Tuberville urged U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to reverse the DoD policy that would provide taxpayer-funded abortions. Senator Tuberville also spoke with General Mark Milley about the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and shortcomings of U.S. military recruitment. 

 Senator Tuberville’s full remarks can be found here

Senator Tuberville opened his remarks with the following statement:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Milley, thank you for being here and for your service. Secretary Austin thank you for your service and your call last week. Secretary McCord thanks for being here today… I ran for Senate to serve on this committee. I ran because of my dad. He was a World War II veteran, and he earned 5 Bronze stars and a Purple Heart. And he died on active duty. I ran to support our warfighter. We owe our freedom to our troops. For fifty years, our all-volunteer force has answered the call. I think you would agree to that. Since 1973, we’ve asked a lot of America’s young volunteers to fight in Vietnam, Grenada, Bosnia, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan. They’ve never wavered. In boom times and in bust, young Americans have raised their right hands to defend the Constitution with their lives, if necessary. War is hell, you know that better than anybody. Every recruit should know that. But in the last two years we’ve put them through a different kind of hell. In one of your first acts Mr. Secretary, you put our military—every single member, active and reserve—through a mandatory training to root out “extremists.” That sent a message, Mr. Secretary, that our military is filled with extremists. Our military is one of the most diverse organizations in the world. It is full of patriots.”

“Eight months later, we watched the collapse of Afghanistan. It was the worst defeat of the United States in my lifetime, and agony for most Americans to watch on the 20th anniversary of September 11th. That defeat gutted our troops who served there. The president called it “an extraordinary success.” That’s not what our veterans of Afghanistan call it. Our withdrawal—a big letdown to our allies, a military disaster, and national disgrace. I’ve talked to leaders all over the world they’ve told me the same thing. Not one general or political appointee has been held accountable.”

“I want to give you an example of accountability. General Milley, in May 2021, I sent you a letter asking: why are we giving up Bagram Airfield? Now, you did answer but it was a few months later. You have 4,500 people, for the next person in line, on the Joint Staff and a budget of $250 million. We’ve got to find ways to get information back to Congress. Secretary Austin, I sent you a question in September 2021 that took almost four months. Congress deserves better. America deserves better. We all deserve better.” 

“Now we are on the brink of world war with Russia, China is openly violating our airspace, but it took Congress to step in and tell our military leaders to stop throwing troops out who objected to the vaccine. Most of them for a religious factor.”

“Given what we’ve put our troops through in the past two years, it’s no wonder that the Army missed its goal last year by 15,000 soldiers. General, you know, that is an entire division. We can’t afford that. And it’s getting worse. The Navy and Air Force will probably miss their numbers this year. Yet some of my colleagues claim that the real crisis is my hold on the promotion of 158 generals and flag officers. Mind you, these were promotions that the majority leader can bring to the floor at any time. Those same people claim expanding abortion will make our military stronger. You know, I want to be clear on this. My hold has nothing to do with the Supreme Court decision to the access of abortion. This is about not forcing the taxpayers of this country to fund abortions. That’s been a bipartisan consensus for more than 40 years.”

“The military has performed abortions for years. All were cases of rape, incest and the harm to the mom. Over the past 40 years I don’t recall one military person ever complaining that we weren’t performing enough abortions, nor did the military raise alarm that our service men and women were being placed in areas that had restrictive policies on abortion. Poland’s restrictive policies. Japan. Djibouti. All these theaters have [restriction on] abortion policy, yet our military changed the policy to do this job in these different theaters.”

“As of 12 days ago, y’all got the American taxpayer on the hook to pay for travel and time off for elective abortions. And you did not make this with anybody in this room or Congress taking a vote. In fact, this contradicts what Congress has actually voted for. Most of us, some of us in the room, if not all senators that have been complaining about this have voted for the Hyde Amendment many, many times. But now my colleagues on the left think this abortion issue is good for a campaign, and that’s what this shouldn’t be about. I’m not going to let our military be politicized.”

“I want our military to be the strongest and deadliest it has ever been. But I also want the administration to follow the law. As long as I have a voice in this body. Congress will write the laws. Not the Secretary of Defense, not the Joint Chiefs. General, you said nothing is more expensive than preparing for war or fighting a war. I truly agree. That’s the reason if we want something to spend money on, let’s pass it and let’s put it in the NDAA. You know, I represent Alabama, but I also represent everybody in this country. Everybody, all 320 million. All of us do. Y’all represent the military. But you also are responsible and represent every citizen in this country that’s the reason this country is so strong, and we all need to understand that and get on the same page.”

“I’m willing to work with you. I’m not here to fight. We’re all on the same team. And I want to work with you to make this happen. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”

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.