Hours after Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama said he no longer would block hundreds of military promotions as a way to extract concession against abortion, his fellow senators confirmed more than 400 promotions — some of which had been on hold since February — in a single voice vote.
Tuberville started his hold to protest a Defense Department policy put in place after the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade last year. The policy provides reimbursements to military personnel who are stationed in states that instituted abortion bans and want to travel elsewhere for the procedure.
His change of course came three months after Tuberville told CNN he was “not budging” despite intense pressure from leaders in both parties and military officials who said his hold harmed military preparedness during a time of wars in Ukraine and the Middle East and rumors of wars elsewhere.
Tuberville’s reversal also came after Republican and Democratic senators were coalescing around a plan to temporarily change the Senate’s rules to force a vote on the promotions.
Tuberville, a former football coach and first term senator with no previous political experience, said he would maintain his hold on nearly a dozen four-star generals that represent the most senior military leaders.
“We did the right thing for the unborn and the military,” said Tuberville of his 10-month hold, which allowed one senator to prevent the Army, Navy and Marine Corps from installing top leaders.
Secretaries of the Navy, Air Force and Army complained Tuberville’s hold put national security at risk, a claim Tuberville disputed.
Christian pro-life and pro-family groups that typically support the military backed Tuberville’s hold on promotions as part of their campaign to persuade Americans the military has gone “woke.”
Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council and the James Dobson Family Institute sided with Tuberville in what FRC called a “David and Goliath standoff.”
FRC said the one-man blockade fulfilled Christ’s command to “be salt and light in the darkening world around us.” FRC told the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal military leaders’ claims that the holds were hurting military preparedness were “wrong — plain and simple” and “more propaganda than anything else.”
On Wednesday, Focus said, “All believers should pray for Republican representatives to find another way to oppose the DoD’s use of taxpayer money to pay for abortions.”
These groups realize there’s no way to reverse the Defense Department policy through legislative means in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
“Military officers are not political tokens” to “be moved around the playing board to get something else you want,” the Democratic chairman of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee said, according to The New York Times.
Tuberville has earned nearly half a million dollars since taking office but has not yet fulfilled his pledge to help veterans.
During the past 10 months, the effects of Tuberville’s hold have reverberated around the world, as military leaders worked as “acting” heads while lacking the authority and compensation that comes with unconfirmed promotions. Meanwhile, hundreds of military families were left in limbo, uncertain where they would live, where their children would attend school, where spouses will work. Some families were forced to keep two residences amid the uncertainty.
Ultimately, Tuberville’s ten-month blockade did nothing to change the military’s policy on travel for abortion, but it did bring attention to the senator’s hypocrisy regarding military veterans.
During his primary campaign against former Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Tuberville made a stunning claim: “I stand with our veterans and I’m going to donate every dime I make when I’m in Washington, D.C., to the veterans of the state of Alabama.”
But as reported in September, Tuberville has earned nearly half a million dollars since taking office but has not yet fulfilled his pledge to help veterans.