Members of Congress, conservative leaders back Tuberville’s nominee hold in defense of life and the law
WASHINGTON — Support is growing for U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville’s work to demand the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) abandon its radical new policy of funding travel and paid time off for service members and their dependents seeking an elective abortion.
Yesterday, for the third time, Senate Democrats attempted to circumvent Senator Tuberville’s hold on all DoD general and flag officer nominations before the U.S. Senate in protest of the Department’s abortion policy.
On the floor of the Senate, Senator Tuberville again defended the role of Congress and the rights of the unborn from Democrats, reiterating why he believes the DoD’s new policy that expands taxpayer-subsided abortions is illegal. He was joined on the floor by U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), who defended the nominee hold and joined a growing chorus of conservatives in labeling the DoD’s abortion policy as illegal and unacceptable.
Over the past week, Senator Tuberville’s work has received endorsement and praise from several members of Congress and leaders of some of the country’s largest policy and advocacy groups, representing tens of millions of Americans.
Here’s what they are saying:
“I’m here to stand in support of my friend and colleague from Alabama, Senator Tuberville. As he stands in opposition raises his legitimate objection, which I share, to the Department of Defense’s plan to use federal funds to facilitate the performance of abortions… Let this be a message for Secretary Austin, if you want to make the laws, run for Congress, but you can’t legislate from the E-ring at the Pentagon. You cannot do that. Until then, stand down, and leave the lawmaking to lawmakers,” said U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
“The Biden Administration is exploiting the United States military to pursue their radical abortion agenda. Republicans must hold the line. At a time when our military is struggling to fill its ranks and replenish weapons stockpiles, our national security resources and American tax dollars should not be used to pay for service members and their dependents to travel to get abortions. Senator Tuberville is standing up for what is right, and I am proud to support him in his efforts against this illegal policy,” said U.S. Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS)
“I support him,” said U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE)
“I agree [with Senator Tuberville] that the Department of Defense’s policy is atrocious, and it is a departure from decades long understanding of federal public policy,” said U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD)
“Until these policies are rescinded, I’m going to also have to consider holds against DOD nominees in solidarity with my colleagues,” said U.S. Senator Ted Budd (R-NC)
“I think he’s right in his concern for what the department is doing because we have never agreed to fund abortions in the past,” said U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD)
“[The] Pentagon’s policy using taxpayer dollars to pay for the travel expenses for service members seeking an abortion is wrong and illegal and should be reversed. I hope the administration is working closely with Senator Tuberville to resolve this issue,” said U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT)
“President Biden is doing everything possible to preserve the practice of murdering unborn Americans, including using our military as an abortion travel agency. We cannot allow these crazy, left-wing priorities to erode our military. The world is an increasingly dangerous place and America’s security requires a strong military capable of deterring–and if need be, defending–our nation,” said U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
“The Pentagon should not be mobilized against the unborn. The Department of Defense exists to defend life, not destroy it… Biden DoD’s policy is not just unlawful, it’s immoral. Congress has been clear; the Hyde Amendment protects taxpayers from being forced to fund abortions. I will continue to ensure the unborn and your tax dollars are protected,” said U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA)
“Thank you, Senator Tuberville, for standing up for American taxpayers, who are being forced to fund abortion through the DoD. As threats against our country continue to grow, the DoD should be focused on protecting Americans instead of being an abortion travel agency,” said U.S. Rep. Barry Moore (R-AL-02)
“DoD should be focused on strengthening our military forces, not the abortion industry. Thank you, Senator Tuberville,” said U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX-27)
“Good for Senator Tuberville. This is a rare example of courage in Washington,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC-08)
“[The Pentagon will] certainly lose. I get that [the Pentagon is] trying to find a crafty workaround, but it’s a blatant violation. Insistence upon diving into issues outside of simply maintaining a lethal and capable fighting force is tearing our military apart,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA-04)
“The Pentagon’s job is to develop our men and women in the Armed Forces into a united, lethal, and battle-ready force to defeat our enemies and defend our interests. It is not supposed to be a woke social engineering experiment wrapped in a uniform. We need to refocus our military on what it’s supposed to do, which is blow things up and kill people… Our military is not a political pawn for the left’s social agenda. House Republicans have the power of the purse and we should use it,” said U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21)
“Thank you, Senator Tuberville, for continuing to stand strong for life and against the Department of Defense’s unlawful new policy that uses taxpayer dollars to facilitate elective abortions… All Republicans should join Senator Tuberville in standing against DoD’s illegal expansion of taxpayer-subsidized abortion,” said SBA Pro-Life America
“Thank you, Senator Tuberville, for opposing Biden admin’s unlawful abuse of tax dollars for defense to support the killing of unborn human beings! You are right to uphold the law and support our military against those who would further politicize it,” said Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch
“Thank God for Senator Tuberville for picking this fight over DOD using taxpayer $$ to pay for abortions,” said Russ Vought, President of Center for Renewing America
“The U.S. military exists to ensure our nation’s security and protect the lives of the future generations of American citizens—not end them through the barbaric and evil practice of abortion. Americans don’t want their tax dollars funding abortion. For decades, until the radical policies of the Biden-Harris regime, there was bipartisan consensus among lawmakers on this point. It takes courage to stand up to the Washington establishment, and that’s exactly what Sen. Tommy Tuberville is doing. The Heritage Foundation is proud to stand alongside him and asks all U.S. senators to do the same until the Defense Department’s radical abortion policy ends. Additionally, House lawmakers should hold oversight hearings on the legality of this Defense Department initiative, which Biden officials admit will increase the number of taxpayer-funded abortions from 20 to more than 4,000 each year. That’s unconscionable,” said Dr. Kevin Roberts, President of Heritage Foundation
“Not only is the Defense Department’s policy to facilitate taxpayer-funded abortions completely out of touch with the American people and their values, but it is also dangerously counterproductive to the Pentagon’s goals of protecting national security and deterring war. Especially with rising threats from adversaries like China, the last things the American people want the Defense Department to focus on are facilitating abortions or pushing a Left-wing political agenda. Unless senators fight back, this policy will dramatically increase taxpayer-funded abortions and potentially threaten the lives of thousands of unborn children. Heritage Action and grassroots Americans across the country applaud Sen. Tuberville for taking a courageous stand to defend life, and we encourage all senators to join his efforts to end the Defense Department’s radical abortion-for-all policy,” said Jessica Anderson, Executive Director of Heritage Action for America
“As a veteran, I’m thankful that Senator Tuberville is standing his ground to hold DOD accountable for its woke & weaponized agenda that is turning DOD into a political agency, instead of focusing on war fighting & lethality, in order to protect us all,” said Wade Miller, Veteran and Executive Director of Citizens for Renewing America
“We appreciate your announcement that you will place a hold on all DOD civilian and general/flag officer nominations if the Department of Defense implements the policy. Further, we are grateful to you and Congressman Michael Cloud (R-TX) for introducing a Congressional Review Act resolution to overturn another egregious abortion policy in Veterans Affairs that would pay for abortions in violation of federal law. The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs must not be corrupted by destroying rather than saving lives,” said Eric Johnston, Director of Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, John Wahl, Chairman of Alabama Republican Party, Eunie Smith, President of Eagle Forum of Alabama, Marty Connors, Director of Center-Right Coalition Alabama, Greg Davis, President and CEO of Alabama Citizen’s Action Program, Ashley Liveoak, Executive Director of Choose Life Alabama
“The nation’s largest women’s public policy organization is proud to stand with you Senator Tuberville. At least 2 other Senators in the past 5 years have used the same strategy, but Senator Tuberville is the ONLY one to use this power to save thousands of lives. Go Coach Go! Senator Tuberville is taking his job seriously and fighting for the American people,” said Concerned Women for America LAC
“Despite, pushback, Senator Tuberville is standing strong against the new DoD abortion policy. Help Senator Tuberville protect unborn lives, preserve congressional authority, and prevent our military from becoming an abortion business. Add your name in support [link to petition],” said Family Research Council
“The U.S. military should not take sides in the abortion debate, much less use taxpayer funds to facilitate abortion. Let’s hope Secretary Austin will reverse his pro-abortion memo to protect the integrity of the military and truly help families and children – not extinguish them,” said Focus on the Family via the Daily Citizen
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 March 8, 2023, Senator Tuberville followed through with his pledge to hold all general and flag officer nominations on the Senate floor. Senator Tuberville defended his hold on the floor again on March 23, 2023.
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, which can be considerably faster. 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.
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 a few weeks ago, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) threatened to hold Pentagon nominees because he was upset his home state lost a competition to house U.S. Space Command headquarters — to Alabama. Despite what Senator Bennet has said on the Senate floor, this hold would have affected six nominees.
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.