U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) recently came under fire from Democrats, such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), for his hold on general and flag officer nominations on the Senate floor in response to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's policy that uses taxpayer money to fund abortions.

The policy in question offers female soldiers in states where abortion is illegal up to three weeks of administrative leave and transportation allowances to receive abortions in different states.

In February, Tuberville, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the DOD policy an "illegal expansion of DOD authority" and a "gross misuse of taxpayer dollars." His decision to hold DOD nominations slows President Joe Biden's efforts to fill DOD positions without a formal Senate vote.

On Tuesday, Schumer called Tuberville's decision "unprecedented." 

Despite Schumer's claims, holds on military nominations and promotions in the Senate are nothing new. 

In fact, a bipartisan group in Senate held up the promotion and transfer of 9,000 Navy and Marine officers in 1992 to urge the Navy to provide evidence that none of the individuals were involved in the Tailhook sexual assault scandal. More senators held military promotions and confirmations in 1997, 2003, 2010 and 2020.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) even threatened to hold Pentagon nominees earlier this year in opposition to moving U.S. Space Command headquarters to Alabama. 

"My hold on nominees… this is not about abortion," Tuberville said. "We already have a policy about abortion in the military. It's about taxpayers now having to fund the abortion. That's not right. The Department of Defense is acting outside of its authority. They are not Congress. What Secretary Austin did is illegal. He ignored Congress. He went around the law, which restricts taxpayer funding for abortion. He did this with a memo."

Tuberville said he warned Austin that he would place a hold on nominees if Austin instituted the policy without going through Congress first.

"He did it anyway," Tuberville added. "This is not a fight. This is not an argument. This is the ability of a Senator to use his power … We're going go through the regular process, or we can slow this down."

Tuberville noted that nominees can still be confirmed; they just have to go before the Senate for a vote, which slows the process down.

"They can bring these nominees to the floor one at a time and get them confirmed," Tuberville explained. "That's how they do everything else, but they normally like to bring in 100 to 300 at a time, and they just go through. I'm all for promotions. I'm all for our military. But I'm not for taking our taxpayers and just running over them. … Let's just go back to the old policy."

The Pentagon's decision to assist women in receiving abortions follows the U.S. Supreme Court's (SCOTUS) decision last summer to overturn Roe v. Wade and bring the abortion issue back to the states. This brought into effect laws in many red states that banned abortion, including Alabama's Human Life Protection Act, which state lawmakers initially passed in 2019.

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