A group of neoconservatives sided with Democrats on Wednesday night to challenge U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Auburn) hold on mass military nominations over the Department of Defense (DOD) over its abortion policy.
The DOD policy offers service members up to three weeks of leave and transportation allowances to travel to get an abortion in states where it’s legal.
Tuberville, a Senate Armed Services Committee member, has held President Joe Biden’s DOD nominations since the policy was implemented without congressional approval nine months ago. His decision slows Biden’s efforts to fill DOD positions without a formal Senate vote.
Tuberville clarified earlier this year that his hold did not stop all nominees from being confirmed but prevented the Senate from confirming them in large swaths instead of individually.
Nevertheless, the move has earned Tuberville considerable backlash from Democrats and neoconservatives, who suggest the senator is hindering the federal government’s ability to provide for national security.
U.S. Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tried for the second time on Wednesday night to move a group of military nominees through the Senate.
Tuberville, with the help of his colleague U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), persisted. Lee spoke in the early hours of Thursday morning, arguing in favor of Tuberville’s battle with the DOD.
According to reports, Graham threatened to vote in favor of a resolution, drafted by Democrats, that passed the Senate Rules Committee that would allow Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to bypass Tuberville’s hold on certain promotions.
Other Republicans against the holds praised military leaders and read some of their biographies, insisting that the leaders should not suffer from a policy they have no control over.
Before the debacle, Tuberville reaffirmed his position in an interview with Newsmax.
“I was elected by the people of Alabama to come up here and represent them," he said. "That's exactly what I'm going to do. What a thought, right? I'm not in the established business. I'm an American citizen that believes in this country, in the Constitution. I'm not running to get reelected. Now, if I get reelected fine, but I don't care about whether I'll lose a vote or gain a vote. Too many people do that up here … I work for the people of Alabama. And that's exactly what I'm going to vote for."
“The only power you have in the minority in the Senate, whether you're Democrat or Republican, the only power you have to get anything on the floor is to put a hold on somebody," he continued. "And so that's what I did when they had this executive overreach from the White House and the Pentagon of charging taxpayers across this country with funding something to do with abortion. They're going around the Constitution, and if we continue to do this, we're not going to have a country."
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