Utah Sen. Mike Lee continues to be one of Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s strongest supporters over his decision to block military promotions because of a Pentagon policy that funds travel for service members to receive abortions.

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the Pentagon issued a press release saying it may authorize transportation allowances for service members and dependents to travel for abortions if they are not available or legal in their local area.

To register his opposition to the Pentagon’s policy, Tuberville, an Alabama Republican, has been blocking the confirmation of military promotions. As of Friday, roughly 300 confirmations have been blocked, per The Associated Press.

Technically, the Senate can still confirm nominations, but it would entail confirming them one by one. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has refused because it would be a longer process and President Joe Biden has said it’s Republicans’ problem to fix.

As House passes defense bill, Sen. Mike Lee voices support for changes to Pentagon abortion policy

On Thursday, Lee again expressed his opposition to the Pentagon policy while speaking on the floor of the Senate.

While acknowledging that Americans are divided on abortion, Lee pointed to majority opposition for using tax dollars to fund abortions. “Americans overwhelmingly agree, with a vast super majority in agreement, that the federal government should not use U.S. taxpayer funds for abortion,” Lee said. “To that end, Congress has passed laws providing just that.”

Lee cited a federal law known as 10 USC 1093, which prohibits the Department of Defense from using funds to perform abortions, except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger or rape or incest.

Tuberville spoke to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about this law, Lee said in his floor remarks.

Lee said Austin “made a decision to openly flout federal law. The sole purpose of this policy is to try to find an all too cute, way too tricky route around what federal law requires flatly and consistent with the spirit if not also the letter of the law.”

Showing a poster board graphic with U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro’s criticism of Tuberville, Lee asked Del Toro to take back the criticism. Del Toro had accused Tuberville of “aiding and abetting communist and other autocratic regimes.”

“Look, I get it. Sometimes passions are inflamed, sometimes people feel really strongly about things. I hope and expect Secretary Del Toro will see the error of this and retract and apologize for this statement,” Lee said.

Tuberville has dismissed the criticism he’s received. “We’re going to be in a holding pattern for a long time” if the Pentagon’s policy remains, he said to The Associated Press.

Critics of Tuberville have said blocking these military confirmations threaten national security.

In an opinion article published in The Washington Post, Del Toro, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall wrote, “The generals and admirals who will be leading our forces a decade from now are colonels and captains today. They are watching this spectacle and might conclude that their service at the highest ranks of our military is no longer valued by members of Congress or, by extension, the American public.”

About the op-ed, Tuberville said, per AP, the secretaries haven’t reached out to him and should have “if you’re gonna run your mouth in the paper.”

Biden keeps Space HQ in Colorado as he battles with Alabama senator over abortion policy
View Comments

In addition to speaking on the Senate floor, Lee also stated his opposition to the Pentagon policy in a series of posts on X, formerly known as Twitter. He compared the abortion-related policy to the Pentagon’s lack of financial support for service members attending funerals.

“What kind of Pentagon (1) makes a soldier pay her own way to attend her mother’s funeral, requiring her to use her own, scarce leave time (if she even has any), but then (2) generously funds abortion travel & provides three weeks of paid leave for any solider wanting an abortion?” Lee said on X.

Lee continued in another post on X, “The Pentagon has vast resources — more than any other entity on earth. Its leaders have weaponized those resources against Americans they don’t like. @SenTuberville is only the latest, most visible victim of their politically motivated bullying tactics.”

If blocking military confirmations in opposition to the Pentagon policy continues until the end of the year, it’s expected roughly 650 nominations may be affected, per The Associated Press. The Pentagon has not provided data on how many service members have used this policy to access abortion.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.