‘Urgency’: Tuberville Shows Openness To Options For Settlement Of Anti-Abortion Military Blockade

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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  • Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville appears open to options for reconciling his blockade of officer promotions in protest of the Pentagon’s abortion travel policy after a closed-door meeting with GOP senators on Tuesday.
  • Tuberville said he “understands the urgency” of confirming nominees, Politico reported.
  • “Coach has always been willing to negotiate, but there has been absolutely no effort at negotiation from the Biden administration or from Chuck Schumer,” Hannah Eddins, a spokesperson for Tuberville, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama appeared to display openness to several options for resolving his hold on officer promotions on Tuesday, citing a growing sense of urgency over the effect of the months-long blockade on the military, according to reports.

Senators emerged from an unusual closed-door meeting late Tuesday afternoon feeling as if little progress had been made, but with possible workarounds to the hold for Tuberville to consider, Politico reported. As GOP pressure on the Alabama senator to seek a face-saving solution mounts and global crises put on display the need for a functioning U.S. military, the situation may be progressing toward a solution that might not include the Pentagon overturning a policy funding travel for the purpose of obtaining abortions, the reason Tuberville implemented his hold in the first place.

“We’ve got several things that we can do,” Tuberville told reporters after emerging from the meeting, according to Politico. “I understand the urgency. I’m not just being hard-headed about this. I understand we’ve gotten into some unique problems the last few weeks.” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: GOP Senator Presses Defense Secretary On Missing Evidence Behind Abortion Claims)

“The conference laid out a number of alternatives for Coach and he’s got to evaluate them,” Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa told Politico, using Tuberville’s nickname.

“Coach has always been willing to negotiate, but there has been absolutely no effort at negotiation from the Biden administration or from Chuck Schumer,” Hannah Eddins, a spokesperson for Tuberville, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Tuberville told Politico he began the meeting with “one or two options” on the table but concluded with “five or six.” He’s brought on Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — allies since implementing the hold in March — as well as Republican Sens. Ernst, Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — who last week forced Tuberville to deny one-by-one votes — to workshop a solution.

“I wish we’d had this six months ago,” Tuberville said following the meeting, Politico reported. “But we didn’t. And here we are, and hopefully we can work through this and get something done in a short period of time.”

A memo sent to Senate republicans outlined four possibilities: the Pentagon withdraws the policy; Congress overturns it through legislation; service members must use private funds for abortion-related travel; or individual roll-call votes on all 450 (and growing) nominees, according to a copy obtained by Punchbowl News.

Tuberville appeared to be mulling additional options after the meeting, including “maybe a lawsuit or something in that order,” Politico reported. Republicans have also suggested shifting the hold to DOD-affect civilian nominees who are responsible for the agency’s policies instead of officers, although Tuberville already has holds on certain civilians. Others support a legal challenge with the help of anti-abortion groups.

Separately, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Independent Sen. Krysten Sinema of Arizona are working out a resolution that would change Senate rules allowing nominees to be pushed through in bulk, according to Politico. The resolution doesn’t have enough support to pass, but does raise the stakes on the GOP to cultivate a resolution from within their own party.

The Pentagon surged assets to the Middle East since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel and an uptick in drone and rocket barrages on bases hosting U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.

Tuberville supported individual confirmation votes for the highest-ranking officers in the Department of Defense (DOD), as well as the Marine Corps assistant commandant after Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith was hospitalized following an episode of cardiac arrest.

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said Tuesday the number of officers held back by Tuberville’s hold now stands at 448, including the Pacific Fleet deputy commander and defense attache to Israel.

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