The Republican senator from Alabama, a former college football coach, announced at the beginning of the year that he would place a hold on confirmations of Department of Defense general and flag officers. The DOD defines flag officer as any officer holding the rank of general, lieutenant general, major general or brigadier general in the U.S. Army, Air Force or Marine Corps or the rank of admiral, vice admiral or rear admiral in the U.S. Navy or Coast Guard.
The holds are in response to a recently installed DOD policy designed to subvert last summer's Supreme Court ruling that handed abortion law to the states. Some states quickly enforced total bans on abortion; others became very restrictive; still others have more liberal laws. A number of the more restrictive states are also home to large military installations.
Fort Bragg, the largest military base in the world, is located in North Carolina, where abortion is banned after 12 weeks and six days of pregnancy. The second- and third-largest bases – Fort Campbell and Fort Hood – are located in states with total abortion bans, Campbell on the border between Tennessee and Kentucky, Hood in Texas.
The policy enacted by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin uses taxpayer dollars to pay for leave time and travel for military personnel and their dependents who choose to travel out of state for an abortion.
By law, Tuberville can disrupt the confirmation process, but he can't deny it. The hold simply forces Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to use floor time to consider each promotion individually instead of approving all promotions – a number Military.com says could reach 650 this year – in a batch with a single up-or-down vote.
"Tommy Tuberville should be praised," Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said on Washington Watch Thursday
But that's not what's happening from the pro-abortion crowd. As the drama plays out month after month, Tuberville has been attacked not only by Democratic senators and left-leaning media but also by President Joe Biden.
"The senator's action and the failure on the part of the 48 Republican senators to do something about it are dangerous. They are harming our military readiness, they're undermining national security, and they're hurting troop morale," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Tuberville receiving support for his stance
Tuberville has not gone without support, however. More than 5,000 veterans have written Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-Kentucky) declaring they "firmly support Sen. Tuberville's position of holding civilian, general and flag officers from confirmation by unanimous consent until the DOD rescinds its policy of subsidizing abortion."
In addition, American Family Association has begun a petition drive to allow people to show support for Tuberville and his stance against taxpayer dollars for abortion expenses for military personnel.
"Sen. Tuberville is asserting what really is the standard that the law expects. The law puts in place a prohibition against the use of Department of Defense funding and facilities to perform abortions," Lee told show host Tony Perkins. [But] they're trying to get around it.
"All Tommy Tuberville is doing is standing up for the law, standing up for where most Americans still agree when it comes to abortion: that no matter where they stand on other issues related to abortion, they do agree overwhelmingly that we shouldn't be using government funds to do it."
Federal law allows the military to provide abortions only in cases of rape, incest or endangered life of the mother. Lee says it's debatable whether Austin's policy violates the law, but argues it "eviscerates" the spirit of the law.
Schumer just complains, doesn't work to confirm
It's not a complicated process to have the holds removed, Lee explained. Tuberville doesn't have a list of demands. He has but one – and that is to remove the policy that mocks the ruling of the Supreme Court.
"When they come out and say, 'Tommy Tuberville is single-handedly undermining U.S. military readiness and jeopardizing national security,' that's absolute, utter nonsense. In the first place we could lift these holds, get these people confirmed immediately, in a day," Lee said.
But Lee contends Schumer seems to be having too much fun using Tuberville as a whipping boy. "He doesn't care as much about who gets confirmed, apparently, because he doesn't work on confirming them. He just complains," Lee said.
Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates AFN.net.