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Mitch McConnell not supporting Tommy Tuberville’s holds on military promotions over abortion policies

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 15, 2022. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday said he disagrees with Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s holds on more than 180 military nominations over objections to Defense Department policies expanding abortion coverage.

“I don’t support putting a hold on military nominations, I don’t support that,” McConnell told reporters, according to The Hill.

New Defense Department’s policies allow service members to request administrative absence for “non-covered reproductive health services,” which includes elective abortions and IVF, for themselves or to accompany their partners. The policies also provide transportation allowances to travel to states where reproductive care is more expansive.

Tuberville contends that the policies are unlawful and that current law only allows the agency to fund abortions in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother is threatened.

“I warned [Defense] Secretary Austin that if he did this … I would put a hold on his highest-level nominees. Secretary Austin went through with the policy anyway in February of this year. So, I am keeping my word,” the senator said last month when Democrats unsuccessfully tried to bypass the holds for the third time. “This was Secretary Austin’s choice, not mine. he knew the consequences for several months.”

When reporters asked McConnell how to break the stalemate, he said, “You’ll have to ask Sen. Tuberville about that.”

McConnell’s comments came after seven former defense secretaries wrote a letter claiming Tuberville’s holds are “harming military readiness and risks damaging U.S. national security,” according to the Hill.

Alabama’s senior senator earlier said he was told by the Defense Department that military readiness was not an issue.

“Democrats keep repeating the same talking points — and the same opinion. But not one of them has cited any facts. Not one. I’ve even asked the Pentagon to explain to me how this affects readiness. All I’ve heard is opinions,” he said. “My hold has no effect on readiness. None. In an Armed Services Committee hearing last week, Chairman Reed asked two of the military’s top combatant commanders what impact would my hold gave on readiness. Admiral John Aquilino said, quote, ‘no impact.’ General Paul LaCamera agreed. There is no impact on readiness or operations.”


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