US Senate manoeuvres around Tuberville’s abortion objections
The US Senate has taken an unusual step to bypass a Republican’s blockade of senior military appointments in protest over a Pentagon abortion policy.
Normally, US military vacancies are filled in large groups, but Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama has blocked over 300 nominations.
Having resisted the option for months in the hope Mr Tuberville would back down, the Senate is now confirming three positions one at a time.
Since February, he has been blocking the highway.
By unanimous consent, the upper chamber of Congress usually fast-tracks and confirms military nominations in one go with bipartisan support.
However, a single senator can prevent it, and Senator Tuberville has been opposing the US Defense Department’s abortion policy for eight months.
Earlier this year, the policy was enacted, providing leave and travel stipends so that service members and their dependents could obtain abortions across state lines.
According to Tuberville, this violates a ban on taxpayer-funded abortions.
Since the Supreme Court last year rescinded a constitutional right to pregnancy termination, held by US women for half a century, it has become a key healthcare benefit for women in states that restrict abortion access.
While both parties have spoken out against Tuberville’s blockade, the Alabama legislator refuses to relent until the Pentagon reverses course or Congress votes on the policy. Pentagon officials have also shown no signs of backing down.
Therefore, all three branches of the military have operated without Senate-confirmed leaders, which critics argue jeopardizes national security.
There is a possibility that the number of nominees caught up in the standoff could double by the end of the year.
General Charles Brown was confirmed by the Democratic leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, on Wednesday to replace outgoing General Mark Milley as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.