Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s, R-Ala., colleagues pleaded on the Senate floor early Thursday morning – from midnight until nearly 4 a.m. – to drop his objection to military promotions, which has placed more than 400 positions in limbo for nine months, over the Pentagon’s abortion policy
Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Todd Young, R-Ind., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, again tried to push a batch of distinguished nominees to top military leadership positions through the Senate just two weeks after their first attempt.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a staunch supporter of Tuberville, objected.
‘Senators Sullivan and Ernst are making some great tributes to generals and admirals whose confirmations have been delayed,’ Lee posted to X just before 2:30 a.m. on Thursday. ‘I wish they’d blame President Biden even half as much as they’re – quite unfairly – blaming Sen. Tuberville.’
The DOD’s abortion policy – which pays for some expenses incurred by an abortion procedure for service members – was implemented without approval from Congress after the overturning of Roe v. Wade last year.
Tuberville has argued the policy violates the 1976 Hyde Amendment, which limits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion services except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk.
On the floor, Graham appealed to Tuberville’s opposition to the policy and signaled his pro-life advocacy, but he opposed the blockade. Instead, he championed taking the policy to court.
‘Generally speaking in America, when you get a legal dispute, you go to court,’ Graham said Thursday morning. ‘The DoD general counsel has a memo it doesn’t violate the Hyde Amendment. I think they’re wrong. But we’re not a court of law here.’
The GOP lawmakers took turns praising some of the military leaders awaiting promotions and reading their biographies, and argued they are being ‘held hostage’ by objections to a policy that they have no control over.
‘We need to fix the policy that – the abortion policy – that we all disagree with here,’ Sullivan said. ‘There’s a number of ways that we can do it. Again, I worked with Sen. Tuberville on ways to do that. And I do agree with my colleagues here. This was started and provoked by the Biden administration, but punishing these 450 members and their families is not the best way to go about doing that.’
Ernst said she and her colleagues are ‘all pro-life’ but appealed to Graham’s suggestion of changing the policy through the court.
‘There has to be another way to overturn this policy,’ Ernst said. ‘That’s our jobs, it’s not the jobs of these nominees. It’s our job to make sure the policy is right.’
Tuberville remained seated at his desk while Lee defended the objection. The debacle occurred just after the Senate voted to pass the House’s bill to keep some government programs funded until staggered deadlines in January and February.
‘We’ve been asked the question over and over again, why punish the innocent?’ Lee said on the floor. ‘Indeed, why punish the innocent? You know who’s innocent? Babies. You know who doesn’t have a voice in the Senate? Babies. You know who can’t speak for themselves? Babies.’
‘How many future admirals are going to be aborted by this policy by the Pentagon itself?’ he added.
Democrat senators on the Rules Committee advanced a resolution Tuesday to circumvent Tuberville and confirm the military promotions. The resolution heads to a full floor vote and will need nine Republicans to vote alongside Democrats to codify the measure.