Mark Alford (R-Missouri) and Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) were successful in adding an amendment that would eliminate Department of Defense policy that allows paid leave and travel costs for military members seeking an abortion who are stationed in states where abortion is severely restricted. The benefit extends to spouses and dependents.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) has been fighting that Pentagon policy for the last six months as he has held up the time-honored Senate tradition of mass military promotion approvals without debate. Only this week did Majority Leader Chuck Schumer blink.
After months of alleging that Tuberville's actions were jeopardizing "military readiness," Schumer (pictured above) brought three military nominations to the floor. Schumer, in fact, could have brought such nominations to the floor at any time.
The Alabamian stood his ground
"Thank God for Tommy Tuberville," Sen. Rick Scott (R-Florida) said on Washington Watch Wednesday. "He stood his ground and showed that Schumer was just playing politics with these military nominations."
Tuberville has faced harsh criticism from Democratic heavyweights while pressing the fight with his promotion holds.
"Sen. Tuberville is standing up for the law in this country. In America, we don't pay for abortion with your tax dollars. The Secretary of Defense [Lloyd Austin] in the Biden administration just changed the policy without coming to Congress. No vote, nothing. He has attacked Sen. Tuberville from his position as Secretary of Defense – and that's wrong," Scott (right) told show host Tony Perkins.
Schumer's move was actually in response to Tuberville's announced plan to force a vote on Gen. Eric Smith's promotion to Commandant of the Marine Corps. Smith was among 300-plus "holds" whose nominations were awaiting approval.
Tuberville has repeatedly said he will continue the holds until the DOD reverses its policy. The policy is actually illegal under the Hyde Amendment, which says taxpayer money cannot be used to perform abortions – a point made several times by the Alabama Republican.
He has also made it clear he will end the holds if the military will simply return to its previous policy, which would pay for abortions in cases of rape, incest or the endangered life of the mother.
Schumer's sudden willingness to discuss and approve three nominations made waves in the news cycle. Tuberville's communications team eagerly pointed out a changed headline from CNN which switched to a softer description more than three hours after its original post.
One victory claimed by the Tuberville camp is a long way from the ultimate goal of changed policy. Alford and Jackson claimed a victory of their own, but Alford knows what they're up against in the fight to blend House and Senate bills together.
Victories of any kind have not been plentiful as House members have struggled to agree on how to fund the government. The House abruptly adjourned Thursday and members are not likely to return to work until Tuesday because of the Yom Kippur holiday, Fox News reported. They have until Sept. 30 to deliver a spending bill and avoid a partial government shutdown.
DOD policy is 'facilitating abortion'
Alford said the DOD's policy is, "facilitating abortion. It's against what we stand for. The Democrats are insistent upon doing this."
A freshman House member, Alford will be part of the conference committee that will meet with senators to produce the final legislation to pass on to the president.
"We know that the liberal Senate ruled by Chuck Schumer is not going to go along with our stripping of the woke ideology. They want those drag queens trying to recruit others into the military. They want the Critical Race Theory language. They want the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to divide our nation rather than unite us with what we have in common," Alford said.
Democratic senators have their antennae up knowing what's coming in the House version of the bill. But even if the amendment survives the final version, it's not likely to receive Joe Biden's signature.
"We know the fight we're up against," Alford acknowledged. "But we're going to stand strong on the House side – and we will fight as hard as we can to make sure that we get those woke policies out of the U.S. military and return pride and patriotism to America."