In a reversal in the Senate on Tuesday, Sen. Tommy Tuberville backed off his long-running pro-life fight.
Tuberville, R-Ala., had been blocking hundreds of military promotions as a lever to challenge a Pentagon policy promoting abortion. On Tuesday, the Alabama lawmaker said he would free up most of the promotions to proceed after blocking them for 10 months.
“I’m not going to hold the promotions of these people any longer,” Tuberville told reporters. “We fought hard. We did the right thing for the unborn and for our military, fighting back against executive overreach and an abortion policy. ”
Specifically, Tuberville said, he would no longer block promotions to the ranks of three-star general or below, an alternative he said was suggested to him by Republican Sens. Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Joni Ernst of Iowa.
Defense Department spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters Tuesday that Tuberville’s continued hold would affect about 11 officers who are up for promotion to the level of four-star general, NPR reported.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer , D-N.Y., thanked Ernst and Sullivan on the Senate floor “for their courage in helping break the logjam.”
The Defense Department allows taxpayer-funded travel for service members or their spouses to obtain abortions. Tuberville had previously said that until that policy was changed, he would not approve any military promotions, arguing that the policy is illegal and violates the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment is a measure dating back to the 1970s that prohibits federal taxpayer funding of abortion.
Tuberville had come under criticism from some GOP senators, who called on the Alabama lawmaker to give up his effort and allow the promotions to move forward despite the Pentagon’s unchanged pro-abortion policy.
Schumer had threatened to hold a vote in the Senate to change the rules in the upper chamber to allow the military promotions to move forward despite Tuberville’s actions to block them. There were reportedly concerns that such a change in the rules, even temporarily, would set a dangerous precedent.
“The only opportunity you got to get people on the left up here to listen to you in the minority is to put a hold on something, and that’s what we did,” USA Today reported Tuberville as saying. “I think we opened our eyes a little bit. We didn’t get the win that we wanted. We’ve still got a bad policy.”
Tuberville says the House now has the opportunity to use the annual defense spending bill to rescind the Pentagon’s pro-abortion policy.
Before Tuberville’s announcement on Tuesday, Ryan Williams, president and publisher of The Claremont Review of Books and of The American Mind; Terry Schilling, president of American Principles Project; and Kevin Roberts , president of The Heritage Foundation, published a joint op-ed praising Tuberville for his commitment to stand against the Pentagon’s pro-abortion policy. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of Heritage.)
Tuberville’s hold “on military promotions over the Pentagon’s unjust decision to fund abortion tourism is a righteous manifestation of the Senate’s responsibility to scrutinize military leadership,” the conservative leaders wrote .
“Analysis from the Center for Renewing America indicates more than 40% of the officers whose promotions the senator has held up have publicly supported ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ policies, and dozens of them have egregiously politicized their service through social media comments, speeches, or policy decisions,” they wrote.
Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life of America, responded to the news on X, formerly known as Twitter, writing, “We’re proud of the stand that Sen. Tuberville took on behalf of the preborn. Every day he stood firm was a message sent to Washington that the lives of America’s preborn are worth defending, even if Joe Biden and his Pentagon don’t think so.”
After Tuberville’s announcement, the Senate voted to confirm more than 400 pending military promotions.
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