Tuberville Twice Blocks Democrats’ Attempts to Break DoD Hold

“The Democrats’ strongest abortion supporters never voted for this. Nobody voted for this.”

“I’m surprised that Democrats in Congress are supportive of the executive branch doing our job.”

“Either follow the law or change the law. I will drop my holds as soon as Secretary Austin suspends the memo.”

WASHINGTON — In keeping with a pledge he made to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin last December, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) both yesterday and today blocked the sixth and seventh attempts by Senate Democrats to circumvent his delay of military promotions before the U.S. Senate.

In February, Senator Tuberville placed a “hold” on all U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) general and flag officer nominations over the department’s new policy of funding travel and paid time off for service members and their dependents seeking an elective abortion. This simply requires military nominations and promotions to be processed through regular order rather than in large batches.

Senator Tuberville’s comments on the Senate floor came hours after 3,000 veterans and servicemembers sent a letter rejecting the Pentagon’s abortion policy. Earlier in the day, retired Lieutenant General William Boykin and retired Lieutenant Colonel James Carafano penned an op-ed in support of Tuberville’s nominee hold. 

Senator Tuberville believes the Pentagon 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.

Following motions on the floor of the Senate both yesterday and today, Senator Tuberville has thwarted Democrats from breaking his hold on these nominations seven times, a position he recently explained in The Wall Street Journal and U.S. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS) joined Senator Tuberville in speaking to keep the hold in place, highlighting the growing support for Tuberville’s position. Several members of the U.S. House of Representatives also came across the Capitol to sit in the Senate chamber in solidarity with Senator Tuberville.

On the Senate floor, Democrats repeatedly made false claims that Senator Tuberville’s hold is leaving vacancies in military positions and leadership. That is untrue. No job is going unfilled due to Senator Tuberville’s hold. The military keeps existing officers in place until their replacements are confirmed.

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

“I am fighting against taxpayer-funded abortions. Funding from taxpayers that was never, ever approved by this Congress. And, by the way, poll after poll shows that Americans agree with exactly what I’m doing. The American people do not support taxpayer-funded abortions. Period. Democrats have had a few retired secretaries in the last few weeks agree with them. But other retired military leaders — and thousands of service members and veterans — just happen to agree with me. Just like the majority of Americans.”

“On July 8, 2022, just two weeks after the Supreme Court ruling, the Biden administration said they needed to expand abortion to counteract the Dobbs decision. By memo, they said the VA would pay for abortion travel and time off. By memo, they said HHS would pay for late-term abortions. By memo, they covered all federal workers. And they acted to expand abortion at the Pentagon. The Pentagon is now giving servicemembers and their dependents reimbursements for travel and additional paid time off for elective abortions. We are not talking about cases of rape, incest, or threat to the health of the mother. Despite what some of my colleagues have said, we are talking about elective abortions. Despite what some of my colleagues have said, that is what this is about.”

“The Pentagon is spending money without the consent of Congress. This money was never authorized. It was never appropriated. Nobody voted for this. Even my friend from Connecticut didn’t vote for this policy. The Democrats’ strongest abortion supporters never voted for this. Nobody voted for this. And now senators are down here defending this. They are outsourcing the work of the United States Senate. Follow the law, or change the law in this building. That’s the reason I object.”

“I’m surprised that Democrats in Congress are supportive of the executive branch doing our job.”

“Either follow the law or change the law. I will drop my holds as soon as Secretary Austin suspends the memo…The burden is not on me to undo the policy — this 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; 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.