Editorial Roundup: Alabama

Cullman Times. September 13, 2023.

Editorial: Memo to Sen. Tuberville: Military readiness and abortion polices are not the same thing

Alabama’s senior senator is in the crosshairs, but that’s not news. Coach Tommy Tuberville put himself there six months ago when he single-handedly blockaded military promotions over the Department of Defense’s policy of reimbursing service members and their families who travel for an abortion.

What is new, is the increasing number of those who have Tuberville in their sights from both sides of the aisle — in addition to those who reside deep inside the might of our nation’s military.

A recent Washington Post column written by Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall and Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth, spotlights the conundrum.

Through senatorial procedure, the Senate relies on unanimous consent agreements for bringing Senate business to the floor for formal consideration. Tuberville is using his privilege as a senator to stay an isolated case of this — in this situation military promotions of senior officers — in effect, forcing individual votes on hundreds of scheduled promotions, a process that thwarts unanimous consent and could tie up Senate business for months.

It’s also a process that Del Toro, Kendall and Wormuth say is preventing “the Defense Department from placing almost 300 of our most experienced and battle-tested leaders into critical posts around the world.” They further explain that “three of our five military branches — the Army, Navy and Marine Corps — have no Senate-confirmed service chiefs in place. Instead, these jobs — and dozens of others across the force — are being performed by acting officials without the full range of legal authorities necessary to make the decisions that will sustain the United States’ military edge.”

When three top guns from our nation’s Department of Defense speak like this, we need to listen. Clearly, Democrats — who refuse to give into Tuberville’s demands because it could be used to easily blockade nominees in the future — are doing so. But increasingly, so are the senator’s once-allied colleagues. Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul said during CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sept. 10 that Tuberville is “paralyzing the Department of Defense.” Republican leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky publicly criticized the senator’s tactics. Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley also declared to CNN that she disagrees with the hold, agreeing with Tuberville that the Defense Department shouldn’t have instituted its policy on abortion, but that using military members and their families as “political pawns” is a “mistake.”

Still, Tuberville persists and even double-downed during a speech on the Senate floor on the 22nd anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, saying that, “If Democrats were actually worried about readiness or about military families, then we would be voting on these nominees.”

Tying abortion policies to military readiness — babies to bombs — and then to the terrorist attacks on our nation is not apples to apples. Doing so not only denigrates each issue individually, it further entrenches all sides of those issues into firm and staid beliefs that are the opposite of open and honest debate.

Perhaps it was Tuberville himself who said it most well, again during that Sept. 11 speech, when he proclaimed, “If we lose a strong military, then we lose everything.”

The senator himself can prevent that and still pursue the Department Defense on its abortion policy through channels the Senate is well-accustomed: legislation.

For the record, Sen. Tuberville, such a pathway would be called statesmanship — something that’s sorely lacking today, and our nation, our military and their families are paying the price.