GOP Split Over Senator Tuberville’s Strategy To Overturn Pentagon Abortion Policy

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Republican lawmakers are split over Republican Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s unilateral blockade on top military postings implemented in protest of an abortion-related travel fund, Politico reported.

Tuberville’s hold now applies to more than 270 military generals and admirals and has left the Marine Corps without a confirmed commandant for the first time in more than 150 years. Many Republicans support Tuberville’s opposition to the Department of Defense’s (DOD) February policy covering out-of-state travel for abortions and other reproductive treatment, but as the Senate leaves for the summer they are beginning to wonder how far the senator can take his strategy, according to Politico.

Rep. Jerry Carl of Alabama described “mixed emotions” over Tuberville’s unilateral hold, Politico reported. “Some people like it, some people don’t understand it. Some of our older military folks aren’t really happy about it; they understand it better than anybody,” Carl said. (RELATED: Few Provisions Blocking Left-Wing Social Policies Squeak Through Senate’s Defense Bill)

“I’m kind of conflicted. I kind of like seeing them have consequences for implementing a policy I totally have nothing to do with,” Republican Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers told Politico.

The Biden administration “created this situation,” Rogers said. He noted the White House has embraced the fight with Tuberville in part because it provides an opportunity to telegraph to its base a willingness to defend abortion access.

Tuberville argues his hold is in response to the illegality of using taxpayer dollars to facilitate termination of pregnancies for reasons beyond the narrow guidelines set in federal law.

The Pentagon called it an unprecedented act that jeopardizes national security and could destabilize the entire military. The hold has trickle-down effects, so mid-level officers whose promotions were approved in bulk may not be able to officially promote or change duty stations because the chain of command has stalled.

Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska explored forcing a vote on Gen. Eric Smith for Marine Corps Commandant, but Minority Leader Mitch McConnell shut down the possibility due to worries it would set a precedent for the minority party to force votes, according to Politico.

Democrats could have called for individual votes on each position during the August recess, each of which could take up to three hours each. However, they decided Republicans needed to convince Tuberville to lift his old and allow the promotions to advance quickly, Politico reported.

The Senate is now out of session for five weeks, which means the hold will stretch into September. A slate of high-ranking officials are set to retire by the end of that month, including the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, potentially leaving the U.S.’ top military position empty.

Alabama voters and state lawmakers seem to be on Tuberville’s side, according to Politico.

“I don’t represent the conference, I represent the people of Alabama,” Tuberville told Politico.

“I have huge support. If I’d have gotten hammered … by 60 to 70% of people from my state, veterans, I mean, then you’ve got to start thinking about: ‘Am I doing the right thing?’” he added.

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