Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressed outrage at U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) Monday for blocking Department of Defense (DoD) appointees due to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and their rule to allow abortion access to servicemembers despite state laws.
"GOP Senator Tuberville is holding up 160 military promotions—because he can't get his way on blocking women in the military from receiving health care," Schumer tweeted. "I can't think of a worse time for Republicans to pull a stunt like this as threats against our country continue to grow."
In October 2022, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin sent a memo decrying the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court decision of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.
The memo directed Department of Defense (DoD) officials to "ensure that service members and their families can access reproductive health care and to support Department of Defense health care providers concerned about potential risks while providing federally authorized care."
The VA released its rule in September 2022 and said it would begin offering abortions to servicemembers and certain dependents, regardless of the individual state's law.
According to Tuberville, the DoD's suggested policies are illegal in that they would permit federal funding of abortions not currently approved by federal law.
Since December 2022, Tuberville has followed through on his promise to block any DoD nominees from receiving an appointment to their desired positions until the DoD reevaluates its pro-abortion policy.
Tuberville serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, responsible for voting on DoD nominees. Nominees require unanimous consent from the committee for confirmation of their positions.
Tuberville's actions would prevent Joe Biden's DoD nominees from receiving appointments and would require a formal Senate vote, which may present a challenge to the nominees.
Federal law only allows military-provided abortions in cases of rape, incest and risks to the mother's life. Additional funding could well run afoul of the Hyde Amendment of 2013, which prohibits any federal money from being used to fund abortions.
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