July 14, 2024

How one senator has held the United States military for ransom

In an act of defiance, members of the Republican Party have committed themselves to knocking down the blockade Senator Tuberville has held on the United States military. For more than nine months, the United States military has been without hundreds of high ranking military officers while tensions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East continue to rise. 

Tommy Tuberville, a Republican Senator from Alabama, began protesting the United States Military’s abortion policy by blocking confirmations for military officials as a member of the House Armed Services Committee. 

To date, 378 nominations have been blocked by Sen. Tuberville, including general and flag officers of the branches. 

Confirming military nominations and promotions has been considered a bipartisan responsibility for Congress. The Alabama senator has effectively broken the precedent and weaponized Congress against itself in order to gamble. He hopes to force the democratic majority to hold a vote on the military’s abortion policy. 

By doing so, the senator has created a backlog of confirmations that would be nearly impossible to clear one-by-one now. This would hold the senate at a standstill for an amount of time that neither party is willing to sacrifice ahead of the 2024 general elections.

The chairman of the Armed Services Committee has reported that it would take 27 days of the Senate working around the clock to clear the backlog. 

Given the democratic majority, it is unlikely this vote would pass if the senator’s efforts were successful. For this reason, members of the Senate, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, have urged the senator to relent on his blockade. 

Despite numerous attempts from Democrats and members of his own party to bring the nominations to the senate floor, Tuberville has objected every time. 

Last October, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote in a memo following the 2022 Dobbs decision to overturn Roe v Wade that the United States military would allow service members to take time off, as well as offer travel to any members in need of an abortion. Service members often do not get to choose where they are stationed and cannot simply move to a state whose policies align with their own. 

This policy does not fund abortions for service members, and AP News found that the Department of Defense (DOD)  reported 91 abortions performed in facilities between 2016 and 2021. 

Among the nominations for consideration is that of several members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Joint Chiefs are responsible for advising the president on military matters and encompass the most senior members of the United States Armed Forces. 

Tuberville’s critics, as well as DOD officials, have raised concerns over the efficacy of a military that has been crippled by the loss of its leadership, especially given current tensions around the globe. 

More than a year and a half after the invasion of Ukraine, along with the rapidly dissolving relationship between Israel and Palestine following the outbreak of the Israel-Palestine War, the need for military assistance still remains at the forefront of American military interests. . 

Ohio’s democratic senator, Sherrod Brown, has challenged Tuberville’s blockade and added that “risking our ability to ensure that the United States Armed Forces remain the greatest fighting force in the history of the world.” 

Among the hundreds of nominations, several of these are service members currently stationed in Ohio cannot move on until they are confirmed. 

Ohio’s other senator, Republican JD Vance has voiced his support for Tuberville’s blockade and co-sponsored a bill with him to rescind the United States Department of Veterans Affairs’ policy on abortion-related health care. 

It is unclear how the military or Senate will proceed, but opposition against Tuberville’s blockade has begun to strengthen. In the coming weeks, the Senate hopes to find a solution to shatter the stalemate.

Author

  • Josie Speakman

    Josie is a first-year Political Science major with a Spanish minor on a Pre-Law track. In her free time, she enjoys reading and watching movies.

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