Tuberville hold on military promotions splits Republicans, draws Pentagon ire

Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) tried to block the promotion of more than 160 military officers and commanders over the Pentagon’s decision to provide military personnel with expanded access to abortion. The move has divided Republicans and angered Pentagon officials.

At issue for Tuberville is the Pentagon’s recently enacted policy of giving time off to troops who have to cover costs and travel to get abortions. Detractors argue that Republican retention in Alabama could adversely affect military preparations at a time of heightened tensions with China, Russia and Iran.

And while many Senate Republicans are sympathetic to his opposition to the Pentagon’s abortion policy, some question whether this is the right way to combat it.

“I think Tommy is tackling an important subject, and it’s hard to see how we can really make progress on that,” Sen. Tom Tillis, a Republican, told The Hill. “So now you’re stuck in a scenario where you can’t do it forever, because it’s probably at the expense of people who share his views on the subject getting caught up in it.”

“I think Tommy has the right to call attention to that, but now we need to explore avenues that produce positive results, and I don’t know if we have it yet,” Tillis added.

The issue has percolated for months as Tuberville continues to drum against a Pentagon directive issued in October.

But the battle between Tuberville and the Pentagon exploded on Tuesday when Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ripped through a growing backlog of promotions when he appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Pentagon secretary didn’t directly name the Alabama senator, but claimed the suspension would affect national security preparedness and said the promotion was “absolutely important.”

“There are a lot of things going on around the world that indicate you can enter a contest on a particular day,” Austin said. “Failure to approve promotional recommendations actually creates a ripple effect, creating a force that is unprepared than it should be.”

Military promotions are usually quick and rarely require floor time. Pending military assignments include multiple senior positions in the Indo-Pacific, Middle East and NATO, including as chairman-elect of the Joint Chiefs of Staff among others. Austin also warned that the pile up could “double” and affect the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Marines.

“The impact is cumulative and it affects families,” Austin continued.

After the hearing, Tuberville told The Hill that she was fighting in the name of opposing taxpayer-funded abortions. He said that most Senate Republicans voted to support the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortions without fighting the Pentagon’s abortion policy, was “hypocrisy.” It is a target,” he said.

“I stand up for the taxpayer,” Tuberville said in a short interview. “I know a lot of people, they don’t want their money going there. We have had an abortion policy for years, but they said on the front that they were going to change it and they were going to include soldiers’ dependents. is not.”

It is unclear what it will take for both sides to reach de-escalation.

Mr Tuberville said he was in talks with Pentagon officials, but did not suggest anything would be finalized before the Senate enters its two-week recess on Thursday.

Senator Deb Fisher (R-Nebraska), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), disagrees with the push of her Senate Republican colleagues, but said she doesn’t expect a solution to come together anytime soon. .

“Sen. Tuberville is pretty solid on this one,” Fisher said. “But I hope the conversation still takes place.”

Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), a senior member of the committee, declined to comment on whether there is a path to an agreement.

“‘Better not to say it,’ he said.

But Tuberville also has the support of some Republicans, who argue that tactics such as withholding promotions are the only way senators can exert influence over issues so serious. are doing.

“We have never agreed to fund abortions in the past, so I think his concerns about what the department is doing are valid,” said SASC member Senator Mike Rounds. (RS.D.) said.

“I think it’s a worthy fight for him,” added Rounds.

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