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Tipsheet

Could We Be Seeing Progress on Tommy Tuberville's Hold on DoD Nominations?

AP Photo/Butch Dill

Months ago, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) took a stand against the Pentagon's abortion policy that provides service members and their dependents paid time off for abortion and the cost of travel. In response, Tuberville has been holding up Department of Defense (DoD) nominees, and he's made clear he'll stand strong, though calls for him to relent have increased. 

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On Monday, Tuberville objected to the eleventh request for unanimous consent to approve military promotions, which would have approved the nomination of General Eric Smith as Commandant of the Marine Corps. 

President Joe Biden spoke about the matter during a press conference in Finland when taking a reporter's question. 

"What does this say about U.S. military readiness and would you be willing to talk to Tuberville to work out some solution?" the reported asked.

"I'd be willing to talk to him if I thought that there was any possibility he would change this ridiculous position he has," the president said. "He's jeopardizing U.S. security by what he's doing. I expect the Republican Party to stand up, stand up and do something about it. They--they, it's within their power to do that," he said. 

As he lamented "we don't know what's going to happen" with holds on promotions, Biden continued, "The idea that we're injecting into, that we're injecting fundamental foreign policy decisions would in fact, as a domestic social debate on social issues, is bizarre. I don't ever recall that happening, ever. It's just totally irresponsible in my view."

Although Biden may not "ever recall [holds] happening," a member of his own party, Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, held up nominees in 2020

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Biden's response leaves out key details. The policy is in violation of 10 U.S.C. 1093, which dictates that abortion can only be funded in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother.

What Tuberville is asking for is for a vote in Congress on changing that policy. He's not only standing up for life, but the rule of law.

Tuberville, unlike Biden, has indicated his willingness to talk about the issue. 

Some progress may be in the works. On Thursday, the senator spoke with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. This comes after the DoD failed to respond to letters from Republicans about the policy. 

When it comes to criticism, Tuberville is armed with rebuttals. This includes with op-eds for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times.

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Tuberville also retweeted support from Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who has likewise objected to such unanimous consent requests.

Such nominations can still proceed if Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) schedules a floor vote. CBS News put into context the time it would take, citing Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), one of the more vocal Democrats opposed to Tuberville's holds:

Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on the Senate floor Monday that because Tuberville's hold forces the Senate to invoke cloture on each nominee, the Congressional Research Service estimates it would take 668 hours to confirm the 251 nominations currently pending – 27 days if the Senate works around the clock and 84 days if they work 8 hours a day just on the military nominations. 

Lee tweeted out a lengthy thread on Thursday night addressing key narratives about the hold, including the confirmation of nominees.

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Even if it would take time to confirm the members, Tuberville's office has reminded that existing officers are kept in place until their replacement is confirmed. Officers will also receive their pay backdated to when they had been selected for higher rank.

Admiral John C. Aquilino testified before the SASC that "operationally, I'm going to have no impact" when it comes to the holds, since officers remain "until the proper replacement is in place." Even Chairman Reed acknowledged, "It seems that for the next several months you could get by."

There are those who would seek to portray Republicans as being in disarray over Tuberville's holds. But, support is there, with members and senior staffers communicating such support to Townhall. 

Lee's thread spoke to such support. 

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Tuberville and his office have highlighted support from grassroots leaders, as well as military leaders. The senator spoke to reporters on Wednesday about that support, the Yellow Hammer highlighted

Tuberville cited a letter from the Heritage Foundation sent to Leader Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that indicates the signed support of 5,000 veterans. 

The illegal abortion policy is part of a larger issue of the woke military. It's not merely about prioritizing abortion access, but also pronouns, particularly noteworthy Pride events, and showcasing trans members

Tuberville is not the only one looking to end such a policy. Earlier on Thursday, the House voted to end the policy via an amendment offered to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). 

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The passage was good news to groups like Heritage Action for America, which had scored the vote on the amendment, and Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. 

The amendment was offered by Reps. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) and Chip Roy (R-TX), who have both spoken out against the woke military. Roy made remarks from the House floor on Thursday and provided comments to Townhall, as well as issued a report from last November. 

Perhaps it's this wokeness and sense of false priorities that should have us concerned about military readiness. 

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