Block on Defense Promotions Over Pentagon’s Travel for Abortion Policy Gains Support

Caden Pearson
By Caden Pearson
April 25, 2023Congress
Block on Defense Promotions Over Pentagon’s Travel for Abortion Policy Gains Support
U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) looks on during a campaign rally at Minden-Tahoe Airport in Minden, Nev., on Oct. 8, 2022. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) on Tuesday blocked 184 military promotions requested by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) due to his objections to the Pentagon’s new abortion policy.

The Republican senator from Alabama has for months put a hold on all civilian nominations and military promotions of general and flag officers until the Department of Defense (DOD) rescinds its policy to facilitate taxpayer-funded abortions.

Tuberville argues the policy, announced last October in a memo, has diverted the DOD’s attention and turned it into an abortion travel agency.

On Monday, Warren took the issue to the Senate floor, arguing that Tuberville’s blockage on Senate confirmations for nearly all military leadership is dangerous and reckless at a time of heightened military tension around the world and in Eastern Europe.

“One senator is personally standing in the way of promotions for 184 of our top-level military leaders. One senator is holding up pay raises for men and women in uniform,” Warren said on the floor. “One senator is blocking key senior military leaders from taking their posts. One senator is jeopardizing America’s national security.”

Warren requested unanimous consent for the Senate to immediately consider the confirmation of Shoshana Chatfield to serve as a vice admiral and to represent America to the NATO military committee.

“At this critical juncture of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, we need her leadership in NATO now more than ever,” Warren said.

Standing up to reject Warren’s request, Tuberville said the Pentagon’s policy is a violation of federal law and explained that his blockage is about “a tyrannical executive branch walking all over the United States Senate and doing our jobs” and not about abortion.

“I warned Secretary [Lloyd] Austin that if he did this and changed 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,” he said.

21 GOP Congressmen Support Tuberville

Tuberville received support from 21 GOP members of Congress, who signed a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP Conference Chair John Barrasso.

In the letter, the 21 GOP members of Congress said that the DOD’s new policy represents a significant shift that violates the spirit of the law and congressional intent that U.S. taxpayers should not fund elective abortion.

“This policy was implemented unilaterally by Secretary Austin without Congress holding a single hearing or taking a vote,” the letter said.

The lawmakers further claimed that the Biden administration is trying to force abortion politics into every avenue of American life, including the military.

“The DOD’s memorandum entitled, ‘Ensuring Access to Reproductive Health Care,’ has turned DOD into an abortion travel agency, directing the focus of our armed forces away from readiness and emerging threats and toward the president’s progressive social agenda,” the letter states.

The lawmakers said the DOD policy undermines Article 1 Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution and called it “immoral.” That section of the Constitution states: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”

In their letter, the lawmakers urged all Republicans to “fight against this policy” and stated that the GOP has always stood for a strong military, responsible use of taxpayer dollars, and unwavering defense of the unborn.


The DOD announced its abortion policy on Oct. 20, 2022, amid a period of heightened discontent and emotion on the divisive issue after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade and declared that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee the right to an abortion.

The memo was created at the direction of the defense secretary, Austin. The policy grants up to 21 days of paid leave for military members looking to either personally obtain an abortion or accompany a spouse or other dependent for the procedure. It also covers travel and transportation costs for those who cannot access such services locally.

Austin said in the memo that the Supreme Court’s decision meant that service members had to travel greater distances, take more time off work, and pay more out-of-pocket expenses to get an abortion. He said this created “extraordinary hardship” for service members.

He insisted the ruling interfered with the military’s ability to retain, recruit, and maintain the readiness of a qualified force.

But Tuberville rejected Austin’s implication, arguing that the DOD has “averaged less than 20 abortions per year for many, many years.”

“Averaged only 20,” he said. “So, does this—potentially restricting less than 20 procedures a year—sound like a threat to our military readiness? It does not.”

“This isn’t about readiness, it’s about politics,” the senator added, noting that American taxpayers would ultimately be the ones footing the bill.

Tuberville has not wavered from his position even as some Republicans joined with Democrats to voice disapproval of his blockage on confirmations.

The White House on Tuesday said Tuberville’s “political showmanship could have a serious impact on our military readiness, on our military forces and our national security.”

From The Epoch Times

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