FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—A group of House conservatives made their way across the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday night for a rare appearance on the Senate floor. They were there to show solidarity with Sen. Tommy Tuberville, the Alabama Republican crusading against the Pentagon’s woke leadership.
At least 10 conservatives were on hand to witness Tuberville’s objection to nearly 200 promotions for military generals and flag officers. Democrats have repeatedly tried to approve the military appointments as a group only to be stymied by Tuberville each time.
Tuberville is vowing to hold the military promotions until the Defense Department rescinds its Feb. 16 policy providing three weeks of paid leave and reimbursement of travel expenses for military personnel and dependents who are seeking an abortion. An estimate from Rand Corp. predicts the number of abortions would skyrocket from 20 to more than 4,000 each year.
“It was important for House members to show Sen. Tuberville how many millions of Americans are standing with him,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., told The Daily Signal. “I know it’s tough in the Senate when the uniparty just wants to make everything go smoothly, but sometimes that dynamic violates the values of our fellow Americans. And what we see right now from the woke Department of Defense is a radical departure from the norm.”
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Gaetz was among the House conservatives whom Tuberville thanked from Senate floor Wednesday night. Others included Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.; Eli Crane, R-Ariz.; Bob Good, R-Va.; Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.; Mike Johnson, R-La.; Ralph Norman, R-S.C.; Matt Rosendale, R-Mont.; and Chip Roy, R-Texas.
They include some of the House GOP’s most outspoken conservatives during the speaker fight in January, when they secured significant rules changes.
The Daily Signal is the first to report who was there Wednesday and why these Republicans decided to stand with Tuberville when others in his own party refuse to do so.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is the highest-ranking Republican to publicly break with Tuberville.
“No, I don’t support putting a hold on military nominations,” McConnell told reporters when asked Wednesday. “I don’t support that.”
McConnell’s position is more closely aligned with the views of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Senate Democrats, who have repeatedly argued that Tuberville’s action is unprecedented and allegedly harming the military.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., went a step further Thursday, ratcheting up his rhetoric against Tuberville.
“I urge Sen. Tuberville to think about the destructive spectacle he is creating in the Senate. His actions are dangerous,” Schumer said.
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Against this backdrop—which Gaetz calls the “uniparty”—the House conservatives promised to support Tuberville.
“President Biden’s use of DOD funds to pay for and promote abortion violates federal law,” Biggs told The Daily Signal. “But who is surprised, given the Biden administration’s propensity to ignore, violate, and re-write laws they disagree with? Americans deserve brave leaders like Sen. Tuberville who will fight back, even in the face of bullying and deceit from the opposition. I’m grateful he’s using the leverage he has to hold Biden accountable.”
Democrats could circumvent Tuberville’s hold by voting on each nominee individually. Doing so, however, would be a laborious process for senators who would rather approve the promotions as a group.
The monthslong standoff shows no sign of ending, particularly with more Republicans standing with Tuberville—even if his party leader isn’t one of them.
“I went over to the Senate to support my friend Sen. Tuberville because I absolutely agree with him,” Norman told The Daily Signal. “The DOD’s new policy of providing paid leave and travel reimbursements for service members to get abortions is absurd. For the federal government and unelected officials to force the taxpayers to provide their hard-earned dollars for travel for abortion expenses is a sad time for our country. It is unacceptable.
“Just like how the 43 senators, including Sen. Tuberville, are supporting me and my House GOP colleagues on our debt ceiling plan, I will support him on this.”
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Previously, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, spoke on the floor in support of Tuberville. Wednesday’s debate brought another ally, Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., to his side.
“The policy is immoral, taking Department of Defense abortions from less than 20 per year to over 4,000 abortions annually,” Marshall said. “It’s beyond me why the White House wants to pick this fight. The policy is illegal. It forces taxpayers to subsidize abortion in violation of federal law.”
Two other GOP senators—Ted Budd of North Carolina and Deb Fischer of Nebraska—have told reporters they support holding the military promotions.
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced legislation in March to terminate the Pentagon’s policy. Thirty-six of her Republican colleagues signed on as co-sponsors. McConnell is not among them.
Gaetz told The Daily Signal he’ll continue to fight the woke Defense Department and urged Tuberville to stand strong.
“There is an arrogance at the Department of Defense right now about what they can do without authorization,” Gaetz said. “There was never a vote in the House, or the Senate for that matter, on the funds that are now being used by DOD to facilitate abortions. I understand that people have different views on abortion, but we’ve all been able to agree that the taxpayers shouldn’t be funding it, paying for it, and facilitating it. Sen. Tuberville is right to stand up instead of getting rolled over.”