The cavalry is coming to help Sen. Tommy Tuberville.
For months, the Alabama Republican has waged a fight against the Defense Department’s woke agenda by blocking the Senate’s approval of nearly 200 promotions for military generals and flag officers.
The military establishment, Senate Democrats, and the Biden administration have resorted to name-calling and unfounded warnings—even though Tuberville insists he won’t budge until the Pentagon reverses its policy subsidizing abortions.
Two weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., touted a letter from seven former secretaries of defense to make his case. Today, a significantly larger number of current and retired service members announced they’re backing Tuberville.
In a new letter shared first with The Daily Signal, more than 3,000 veterans and active-duty members of the U.S. armed forces are expressing their support for Tuberville and calling on the Pentagon to rescind its abortion policy. Four members of Congress joined state lawmakers, national leaders and thousands of everyday Americans who have served their country in the military.
“The undersigned stand united in condemning this policy,” they write in the letter to Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “This policy is not just illegal, it shamefully politicizes the military, circumvents the authority of Congress, and exceeds the authority of the Department of Defense.”
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The letter includes 593 individual names—including Reps. Eli Crane, R-Ariz.; Andrew Clyde, R-Ga.; Ronny Jackson, R-Texas; and Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla.—plus 32 endorsers and partners with the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, which represents the position of over 2,500 military chaplains. (See full text of letter and signatures below.)
The Defense Department issued its policy Feb. 16, providing three weeks of taxpayer-funded paid leave and reimbursement of travel expenses for military personnel and dependents who are seeking an abortion. An estimate from Rand Corporation predicts the number of abortions would skyrocket from 20 to more than 4,000 each year.
Using his leverage as a U.S. senator, Tuberville is holding the nearly 200 military promotions. He’s earned the support of Republican colleagues, including influential Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who said this week, “I regret that it’s necessary, but I think it is.”
Last week, a group of House conservatives stood with Tuberville on the Senate floor. Previously, CatholicVote organized pro-life and conservative leaders to enlist their grassroots organizations to aid his effort. And now a diverse group of service members and veterans are speaking out in support.
Their letter directly refutes the claim by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his seven predecessors that Tuberville’s actions are affecting military readiness. Democrat senators, led by Schumer, have repeatedly made this assertion—without factual evidence—to attack Tuberville.
“Over the past few months, the senior senator from Alabama has singlehandedly hindered our national security by blocking hundreds of critical military appointments,” Schumer alleged Monday. “Those holds are hamstringing our military. According to former secretaries of defense who served presidents of both parties, this blanket hold ‘is harming military readiness and risks damaging U.S. national security.’”
Beyond broad warnings about military readiness, however, Democrats are unable to point to specific examples proving their case.
The letter from service members suggests the real readiness problem is a result of Austin’s actions as secretary and the “politicized agenda” of the Biden administration.
“The American people, including its service members, are disappointed by President [Joe] Biden and Secretary Austin’s recent decisions to mandate receipt of the COVID-19 vaccines, promote the radical LGBT agenda, and now subsidize abortion,” they write. “Because of these policies, the military now faces an unprecedented crisis of recruitment—missing its recruitment goal for the first time ever last year. The focus of our military must be on keeping the American people safe, not advancing the left-wing social agenda.”
Even when Democrats have pressed military leaders for evidence, they’ve come up empty.
At an April 20 hearing, Senate Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., asked U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Cmdr. John Aquilino about the consequences of Tuberville’s hold on readiness in the region. Aquilino responded, “Operationally … no impact, because Seventh Fleet commanders are not going anywhere until the proper replacement is in place.”
Retired three-star Gen. Jerry Boykin, executive vice president at the Family Research Council, flatly rejected the idea when FRC President Tony Perkins asked him if Tuberville’s effort was endangering the U.S. military. Boykin responded, “No, it is not.”
“In the military,” Boykin added, “you don’t replace somebody until you have a replacement for them, which means the person holding that slot stays there until he has a replacement. This whole thing is more propaganda than anything else.”
And last week, three Heritage Foundation vice presidents—including retired Lt. Col. James Jay Carafano, vice president of Heritage’s Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy—pointed to greater threats to military readiness than the failure to promote flag officers.
“America’s military readiness is of vital importance and one The Heritage Foundation takes seriously,” they wrote to Tuberville. “Each year, we publish an Index of U.S. Military Strength to gauge the U.S. military’s ability to perform its missions. This year, for the first time, we assess the military as weak and at growing risk of not being able to meet the demands of defending America’s vital national interests. While the reasons for this are many, your holds are not among them.”
Carafano was joined by two others from Heritage: John Malcolm, vice president of the Institute for Constitutional Government, and Roger Severino, vice president of domestic policy. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
Democrats could circumvent Tuberville’s hold by voting on each nominee individually. Doing so, however, would be a laborious process for senators who would rather approve the promotions as a group.
Just as he’s done several times already, Tuberville is prepared to continue his fight until the Pentagon changes course. Now, he has the backing of more than 3,000 service members and veterans.
“There is no truth more profound than the fact that all human life is sacred,” their letter concludes. “The mission of the United States Military is to defend and protect all American lives—not subsidize the practice of destroying innocent and vulnerable American children via abortion with taxpayer dollars. By pledging to hold these nominations to the Department of Defense until administration officials reverse course, Sen. Tuberville is doing a great service for the American people—including its service members.”
LifeNews Note: Rob Bluey is executive editor of The Daily Signal, the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.