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‘That’s a mistake’: Nikki Haley critical of Tuberville military holds

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley at a campaign event in Scottsdale, Ariz. in Oct. 2020. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley both agrees and disagrees with Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville.

In an interview Sunday on CNN, the former ambassador and South Carolina governor said she agrees with his opposition to the Pentagon policy covering travel expenses and providing paid leave to women in the military seeking abortions. But she disagrees with the way Tuberville’s is protesting – placing a hold on all military promotions that’s been in place since February.

“First of all, Department of Defense never should have done this,” Haley said. “I disagree with it. And then I’ll put an end to it as president.”

The holds, however, are not the best mechanism to enact change, Haley said. She is part of a military family herself with her husband currently deployed overseas. Maj. Michael Haley is serving a yearlong tour of duty in Africa with the South Carolina National Guard.

“I’ll put an end to that,” Haley said of the abortion policy at another point in the interview. “And you’ll handle it through the proper channels. Secondly, we don’t need to be using military families as political pawns. That’s a mistake. The military members and families, they sacrifice enough. They don’t need to be a pawn in Congress.”

A spokesman for Tuberville declined to comment Monday on the Haley interview.

Another Republican also said he opposed Tuberville’s strategy. Texas Congressman Mike McCaul said the military holds are “paralyzing the Department of Defense.”

“I think that is a national security problem and a national security issue,” McCaul said in the CNN interview.

It’s not the first time Haley has stated her opposition to Tuberville’s strategy. Last month in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Haley said that while she appreciated what Tuberville’s trying to do, “there’s got to be other ways to go about doing this.”

About 300 military promotions are being held up by Tuberville. The Army, Navy and Marines do not have a Senate-confirmed leader in place because of the block on promotions.

Tuberville said last month that he believed the military was “a little overloaded” with generals and that “I don’t care if we promote anybody, to be honest.”

In the CNN interview, Haley repeated a favorite Tuberville talking point regarding the holds – the Senate can hold a vote on each promotion as a bypass to his holds. Senate leaders have said that process would take months while promotions are traditionally approved by a quick unanimous consent process.

“If you’re going to talk about tradition, shouldn’t Department of Defense do things the right way so we’re never in this mess to start with?” Haley said. Let’s call it like we see it. Department of Defense started this. I’m not saying Senator Tuberville is right in doing this because I don’t want to use (military families) as pawns. But if you love our military, if you are so adamant about it, then go and make Congress — Republicans and Democrats — have to go through person by person (for confirmation). Do you honestly think they won’t say OK, this is ridiculous, let’s put an end to it? They will.”

Haley then shifted to a broader attack on Congress.

“Let’s make them do their job,” Haley said of confirmation military promotions one at a time. “Let’s make them suffer so that they know what they’re doing to these military families. This isn’t about making it convenient for Congress. This is about making sure you’re doing right by members of the military. This is making sure you hold the Department of Defense accountable.

“Let’s call that what it is because right now, everybody thinks ‘Oh, but do you really want Congress doing this? You know what I want Congress to do is their job. I want Congress to do their job. I want them to deal with inflation. I want them to deal with gas prices and groceries. I want them to deal with the lack of transparency in schools. I want them to deal with the fact that, yes, military members are being used as pawns and they need to make sure that these families don’t suffer. I want them to do their job.”


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