GOP Senator Blocks Military Promotions in Bid to End Pentagon's 'Abortion Travel Agency'
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The U.S. military's abortion policy was challenged at a hearing of the Senate Armed Forces Committee Tuesday.
The policy provides travel and transportation allowances to service members and their families who seek abortions in another state. It also protects military doctors from prosecution if they perform abortions.
Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville opposes the policy and has vowed to block certain promotions unless Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ends or suspends the policy.
"I want to be clear on this – we're not forcing U.S. taxpayers to fund abortions," Tuberville told Austin.
Austin replied, "The policy is based on strong legal ground." But the Defense secretary agreed to comply with Congress.
He also called on the Alabama senator to lift his hold on promotions.
"I really implore you to reconsider and allow our nominations to move forward. It will make a significant difference for our force," he said.
Following the hearing, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) criticized Tuberville for blocking the promotions.
"GOP Senator Tuberville is inflicting unnecessary damage to our military by blocking the promotion of 160 officers," Schumer said in a tweet.
'Congress Will Write the Laws, Not the Secretary of Defense'
However, Tuberville has held fast in his opposition to the policy that he says was instigated without congressional approval.
"Y'all got the American taxpayer on the hook to pay for travel and time off for selective abortions. And you did not make this with anybody in this room, or Congress taking a vote. In fact, this contradicts what Congress has actually voted for," he said.
"I'm not going to let our military be politicized. I want our military to be the strongest and the deadliest it has ever been. But I also want the administration to follow the law. As long as I have a voice in this body, Congress will write the laws, not the Secretary of Defense, not the Joint Chiefs," the senator said.
Tuberville first announced he would block all DOD nominees on Feb. 17, just one day after the Pentagon outlined its new abortion policy, and has so far prevented the Senate from approving what is typically a block of nominees in a single vote, according to Fox News.
'An Abortion Travel Agency... Without Congressional Approval'
In a commentary published by The Daily Signal, the news arm of The Heritage Foundation, Tuberville wrote, "Federal law permits the U.S. military to only provide abortions in very narrow circumstances: rape, incest, and threat to the life of the mother. Yet, the Biden administration has turned our Department of Defense into an abortion travel agency."
"Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin did it using a memo—without congressional approval," he noted.
"Under a policy announced Feb. 16, the Biden administration is allowing abortion on demand for not just those enlisted in our military, but their family members as well. This would expand the policy to millions of people. American taxpayers are on the hook to cover non-chargeable paid time off, and travel costs for abortions for our military and their families," the Alabama senator continued.
"This goes beyond the law," Tuberville explained.
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"The U.S. Constitution is clear: Congress makes the laws, the executive branch enforces the laws. Austin seems to think he can make or change the law without going through Congress," he pointed out.
"It would be irresponsible for the U.S. Senate to allow an administration to walk all over the legislative branch. Austin cannot change the law by memo. Congress cannot be replaced by a post on the Department of Defense website," Tuberville wrote.
The Alabama senator said he would continue to hold up the nominations until Austin rescinds or suspends his policy of taxpayer-funded abortions for members of the military and their family members.
Tuberville's nomination hold could affect the process to pick Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark A. Milley's successor. Milley's term ends Sept. 30. No name has been put forward yet for Milley's replacement but it's strongly believed that the two leading contenders are Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown and Gen. David Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, according to ABC News.
Watch Sen. Tommy Tuberville's (R-AL) address on the Senate floor below:
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