GOP Senator plays hardball, threatens indefinite block on future DoD nominees over abortion policy

Sen. Tommy Tuberville is threatening to indefinitely block “all future U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) civilian and general flag officer nominees” if the DOD moves forward with a plan to fund abortions for service members.

At issue is a memo filed on Oct. 20th in which Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin responded to the overturning of Roe v. Wade by ordering the DOD to “[e]stablish travel and transportation allowances for Service members and their dependents” who need an abortion.

“The practical effects of recent changes [the overturning of Roe v. Wade] are that significant numbers of Service members and their families may be forced to travel greater distances, take more time off from work, and pay more out of pocket expenses to receive reproductive health care,” the memo reads.

“In my judgment, such effects qualify as unusual, extraordinary, hardship, or emergency circumstances for Service members and their dependents and will interfere with our ability to recruit, retain, and maintain the readiness of a highly qualified force,” the memo continues.

In a letter sent this week, Tuberville cried foul.

He noted that prior policy limited government-funded abortions “to cases of rape, incest, or pregnancies that threaten the life of the mother.”

“For years, the department has averaged less than 20 abortions per year. … [T]he policy intentions put forth in your 20 October memo, ‘Ensuring Access to Reproductive Health Care,’ would increase DoD-subsidized abortions by as much as 4,100 per year. That estimate does not include dependents, which your policy also intends to cover, who might seek assistance in obtaining an abortion,” he wrote.

“The vast expansion of DoD-subsidized abortions is made worse by how your plan will provide unrestricted access to abortion. As six states and the District of Colombia have no abortion restrictions, your policy would force taxpayers to finance access to abortions without protections other states have duly enacted such as waiting periods and prohibitions on late-term abortions. Like me, many Americans find such abortions morally repugnant,” he added.

With this in mind, Tuberville concluded his letter with a threat.

“[I]t is my conviction that this proposed policy change is illegal, circumvents Congress, and exceeds your authority. Should you implement these proposed changes to the department’s abortion policies, I will place a hold on all future DoD civilian and general/flag officer nominations,” he wrote.

Why did it take Tuberville two months to respond? Well, prior to this week, he’d reportedly threatened to block nine DOD nominees until he received a full briefing on the DOD’s new abortion policy. That briefing finally occurred Wednesday.

According to Fox News, “what he learned about the policy” during the meeting “cemented his opposition” to the new policy and convinced him to continue blocking DOD nominees until the policy is entirely repealed.

In his letter, he added that the DOD had been unable to provide an estimate of how much exactly its new policy will cost taxpayers.

“When questioned on these issues, the department could not provide analysis or estimates of how this policy change will impact its budget, readiness, and manpower. It is irresponsible to push forward with such a controversial change to department policy without due diligence on how this will impact the readiness of the force,” he explained.

Tuberville isn’t the only congressman who’s taken action on this. So have Reps. Ronny Jackson and Chip Roy, who a week earlier introduced legislation to formally prohibit the DOD from funding abortions.

“The DoD should focus on the growing threats posed by China, Russia, and Iran instead of using military resources to push Democrats’ anti-life agenda. Taxpayer dollars should never be used to fund abortions in any way, shape, or form. With our legislation, Congressman Roy and I will take an important step to put a stop to it,” Jackson said in a statement.

“The Biden Administration’s blatantly political decision to disregard Congress and thumb its nose at the black letter of the law to establish an abortion travel slush fund for service members and their families is unacceptable; every Republican should unequivocally oppose it,” Roy added.

“This action flies in the face of both the separation of powers and nearly half a century of bipartisan consensus to respect the beliefs of millions of Americans by prohibiting taxpayer dollars from funding most abortions,” he continued. “Congress must take a stand against the Department of Defense from creating this abortion travel fund — which is already prohibited by federal law — and our bill would do just that.”

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