Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) on Nov. 7 vowed not to back down from his blockade of senior military promotions despite concerns over military readiness and national security, although the lawmaker later suggested he might allow promotions to happen in certain cases.
The Alabama senator made the comments to reporters following a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans on Tuesday regarding the blockade of more than 400 military promotions.
The Republican senator noted that despite nearly two hours of discussions, he and his colleagues were still unable to reach a consensus to end the blockade.
Still, he left with "five or six" options to move forward with, Mr. Tuberville said, including more cloture votes, overturning the Pentagon policy in a larger annual defense bill—the National Defense Authorization Act—or a potential lawsuit—against whom he did not say.
Mr. Tuberville said he is also working with five Republican senators to find a solution to the matter: Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Politico reported.
The lawmaker also stressed that while his "hold" would remain in place for now, he might allow promotions for "people who really need to be promoted."
'Standing Up for the Unborn'Mr. Tuberville's comments to reporters following the meeting differed slightly during an interview with CNN later on Tuesday in which he vowed not to back down from his promotions blockade at all.
"I’m still dug in," he told CNN. “I’m standing up for the unborn."
The lawmaker noted, however, that "there’s going to have to be some give-and-take here as we go through this because there’s 450 out there that haven’t had a promotion," and later suggested he might be open to removing the blockade at some point.
"That just depends on some of their actions and how they answer some of the questions that I’m gonna ask them," Mr. Tuberville said of the Pentagon, adding that he planned to meet with senior DOD officials in the coming days. "But no, I’m not willing to drop them right now, no."
Mr. Tuberville has for months called on the Pentagon to scrap its abortion policy, which was announced last October in a memo.
Under the policy, military members who have to go out of state to obtain an abortion are able to be reimbursed for travel and transportation costs.
The policy also grants up to 21 days of paid leave for military members looking to either personally obtain an abortion or accompany a spouse or other dependent for the procedure.
National Security ImpactsPresident Joe Biden’s administration instituted the new rules following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, prompting some states to limit or outright ban the procedure.
However, Mr. Tuberville has claimed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin unilaterally imposed the "unlawful abortion policy" for America's military and that taxpayers will essentially foot the bill for military abortions.
"That’s not how our system is supposed to work. Under the Constitution, Congress writes the laws and Congress directs all federal spending. Yet Secretary Austin has effectively changed the law and spent money without Congress taking a vote. That’s dangerous overreach by the executive branch," the Republican wrote.
While Mr. Tuberville has stood firm in his opposition to the abortion policy, senior officials have repeatedly warned that his blockade of senior military promotions threatens national security.
In a Nov. 2 statement, Mr. Austin said the "unprecedented delay in confirming our military’s top leaders has hurt our military’s readiness and unnecessarily weighed down our military families, who already give up so much to support those who serve."
The defense secretary also called on the Senate to "take swift action" on the issue so that "American heroes can lead our team in keeping our country safe."