Military /

Military Leaders Ask Senator Tommy Tuberville to End Confirmation Hold

The Alabama Republican has placed a hold on military nominations until the Defense Department ends its abortion travel subsidy policy

The Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force teamed up to publicly appeal to Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who is singlehandedly preventing over 300 military nominations from being finalized. 

Tuberville opposes a directive from the Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who authorized the department to cover the travel costs incurred by service members who have to travel out of state to obtain an abortion or who travel with their spouse who is undergoing an abortion.

For the last eight months, Tuberville has refused to allow the military nominations to move forward until Austin ends the policy or until the policy is codified into law. The United States Marine Corps, the Navy, and the Army are all without permanent leadership because of Tuberville’s protest.

In a joint opinion piece for The Washington Post, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, and Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said Tuberville is putting “our national security at risk.”

The secretaries argued that the interim general and admirals leading the military branches are “being forced to perform two roles simultaneously” and the stagnant confirmation process has created “a real and unfair burden on these officers, the organizations they lead and their families.”

“We know officers who have incurred significant unforeseen expenses and are facing genuine financial stress because they have had to relocate their families or unexpectedly maintain two residences,” wrote Del Toro, Kendall and Wormuth. “Military spouses who have worked to build careers of their own are unable to look for jobs because they don’t know when or if they will move. Children haven’t known where they will go to school, which is particularly hard given how frequently military children change schools already.”

“Rather than continue making sacrifices to serve our nation, some might leave uniformed service for other opportunities, robbing the Defense Department of talent cultivated over decades that we now need most to maintain our superiority over our rivals and adversaries,” the group added.

The secretaries accused Tuberville of being unwilling to seek a bipartisan resolution and launching “useless political attacks against these men and women.”

Tuberville has maintained that Austin’s actions constitute an illegal expansion of the DOD’s authority and violated the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the federal government from paying for abortion services.

“I’m holding DOD nominations because the secretary of defense is trying to push through a massive expansion of taxpayer-subsidized abortions without going through this body, without going through Congress,” said Tuberville in February while speaking from the Senate floor, per The Washington Examiner.

The Republican, who has spoken to Austin about the standoff at least twice, called for a vote on a proposal to codify the abortion travel expense policy into law. Tuberville said he would agree to end his blockade if the measure passed provided the Defense Department agreed to repeal the policy if the measure failed.

Tuberville’s hold means the Senate cannot approve President Joe Biden’s nominees to fill DOD vacancies through unanimous consent. Instead, each nominee must undergo a formal vote in the Senate to be confirmed. 

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,” Tuberville said in a statement in April. “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.”

*For corrections please email [email protected]*