In a rare example of a member of Congress working for the people, Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama is using his objection power to punish the Department of Defense for advancing the Biden administration’s abortion activism.
After months of prioritizing abortion and facing criticism from the GOP for it, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced in February that the taxpayer-funded Pentagon would grant up to three weeks of paid time off and travel for U.S. military members and their family members to obtain abortions.
Tuberville warned Austin in December that he would “place a hold on all future U.S. Department of Defense [DOD] civilian and general flag officer nominees” because the DOD is prohibited from offering abortions except in rare cases.
As Tuberville’s office reported in one of its letters to Austin, between 2016 and 2021, the DOD averaged fewer than 20 abortions per year. The Pentagon’s newest policy, however, would subsidize thousands of “non-covered abortions” without congressional consent or the approval of taxpayers, a majority of whom oppose using their dollars for abortions.
“Secretary Austin’s new abortion policy is immoral and arguably illegal. If he wants to change the law, he needs to go through Congress,” Tuberville said from the Senate floor moments after revealing that Austin ignored his attempts to get an explanation for the policy.
Once Austin publicly declared his intention to follow through on the abortion promises, Republicans in both congressional chambers scrambled to oppose the DOD.
Much to Democrats’ chagrin, Tuberville, specifically, turned his threat to block nominees into a promise. Since the standoff began, Tuberville successfully stalled two civilian nominations and threatened the promotions of another 158 generals and flag officers.
Tuberville’s actions were quickly backed by dozens of conservative, pro-life, and Christian organizations that said “the mission of the U.S. military is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and ensure our nation’s security, not to pursue an abortion agenda being pushed by the Biden administration and their radical allies on the outside.”
Ever since the 118th Congress convened in January, the Democrat-controlled Senate focused solely on approving dozens of Biden nominees.
That all changed when Tuberville leveraged the narrowly divided Senate and Democrats’ desire to shove Biden nominees through confirmation to draw attention to the DOD’s abuse of power.
Republicans may have promised to punish the DOD for its newest pro-abortion policy, but so far, they’ve only produced bills that don’t have a chance of passing.
But since the Senate is required to approve all Pentagon appointments and promotions, and since expedited considerations of these nominations require unanimous consent, Tuberville alone has thwarted the DOD’s bureaucratic expansion by objecting to unanimous consent proposals from Democrats such as Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could easily bypass the unanimous consent requirements Tuberville is using by redirecting decisions to the Senate floor. Doing that, however, means devoting hours he doesn’t have to approving raises and ranks for more than 100 military members.
With just a short “I object,” Tuberville has forced the Biden administration and its Democrat allies in Congress to choose between rethinking their radical abortion agenda or risking time-sucking congressional approval for Austin’s subordinates.
A Dose of Their Own Medicine
Tuberville’s strategy isn’t just working, it’s angering Democrats.
At least 36 Senate Democrats clearly understand the effectiveness of Tuberville’s stymieing. They’ve already begun begging Austin to keep his new abortion policy despite the consequences it could pose to Biden nominees and Pentagon officials’ pockets.
Schumer and Austin both have also personally called out Tuberville for “politicizing” the military confirmation process, allegedly affecting the Pentagon’s “readiness,” and acting in an unprecedented manner.
“I can’t think of a worse time for a MAGA Republican to pull a stunt like this as threats against American security and against democracy are growing all around the world,” Schumer said on the Senate floor on Monday.
Schumer and Austin’s insults don’t seem to bother Tuberville. As the Republican told the Senate two weeks ago, “the military wasting time and resources to coordinate abortion trips hurts readiness, not the Senate using regular order to vote on nominees.”
The truth is, Democrats have used the same procedural tactics to get their way for years.
In 2020, Sen. Tammy Duckworth threatened to block 1,123 senior U.S. Armed Forces promotions until then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper promised not to stop the promotion of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who helped Democrats plot the failed impeachment of former President Donald Trump.
More recently, Tuberville noted in a recent floor speech, Bennet and Sen. John Hickenlooper threatened to hold up Pentagon nominees over Austin’s reluctance to discuss moving U.S. Space Command headquarters from Colorado to Tuberville’s Alabama.
By threatening the future of Pentagon nominees, Tuberville is doing the only thing that will actually force Democrats and the Biden administration to abandon their ways. He’s not just talking in letters, he’s successfully effecting change.
All Republicans should join Tuberville in leveraging their power, even when they don’t have the majority, to stop Democrats’ radical agenda.