Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville doesn’t appear bothered by criticism from those who say his blocking of military promotions over a Defense Department policy relating to abortion funding is “unprecedented.”
“I don’t care what they say. I was an elected senator from the state of Alabama,” says Tuberville, who won his Senate seat in November 2020.
“Again, if I was affecting readiness … I do truly believe in our military and the things that we knew to be prepared. We’re as prepared now as we were last March, when I started this. It’s not affecting readiness at all,” Tuberville says, adding:
I’ve had military personnel call me. I’ve had veterans. I had a letter from 5,000 veterans that said, “We’re all behind you, Coach. Keep on doing this. We do not need a woke military.”
Tuberville joins today’s episode of “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss why he’s against the Defense Department policy on abortion and his subsequent efforts to block military promotions; whether he has spoken with anyone at the Pentagon about the policy; and Title IX as it relates to biological males taking part in girls’ and women’s athletics.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Samantha Aschieris: I have the honor of welcoming Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama to today’s episode of “The Daily Signal Podcast.” Sen. Tuberville, thanks so much for taking the time to join us.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville: Thank you.
Aschieris: So, over the last few months, you have been pushing back against a Defense Department policy relating to abortion. As my colleague Rob Bluey has previously written for The Daily Signal, you are “currently blocking the promotions of more than 300 flag officers and military generals over objections to the Defense Department’s new taxpayer-funded abortion policy.”
First and foremost, can you tell us a little bit about why you’re against this policy and your efforts over the last couple of months?
Tuberville: Yeah, thank you. Thanks for the question.
I’m on the Armed Services Committee and I have an opportunity to sit and listen to admirals and generals and secretaries of every facet of our military. And I’m a military brat. My dad was in military, died on active duty, so I very much believe in our military. I think it’s probably the most important thing that we do here in our country. We need a strong military to deter conflict.
But here’s what happened. About a year ago, I got a briefing that because Roe v. Wade went down, the Biden administration decided that, “Hey, we can’t control what happens in the states, but we can control federal employees, one being the military.”
And so what they did is they sat down, gave us a brief that they were going to change the abortion policy in the military—which we’ve had 35 years, by the way, no complaints. [President] Joe Biden himself even voted for it when he was in the Senate. But they didn’t like it.
After Roe v. Wade, they wanted to change the military policy and they did it with a memo this time. It didn’t go through Congress, which it should. It’s illegal law or illegal policy that they passed down that now you can pretty much get an abortion at any time. Your transportation will be paid for by the taxpayers of this country, which is illegal.
I had a very short conversation with Secretary of Defense [Lloyd] Austin and said, “If you do this, I’m going to put a hold on your generals and admirals. It’s an unlawful law. The people of Alabama and the other states don’t get an opportunity to vote on this through their senators or congressmen.”
So we’re to this point, it’s been going on seven months now. They’re really complaining. We’re up to, as you said, 300 generals and admirals, but it is not affecting anything. Readiness is still there with people that were in those positions are still in those positions.
It’s the only power that you have as a minority senator, and we’re in the minority as Republicans. We can put a hold on anything.
Now you got to remember this. I am not holding up nominations because they can do them one at a time. I’m holding up the opportunity for them to just say, “Listen, we want to do 300 at a time.” That’s not going to happen unless they change this policy back and then send it over to be voted on by the senators.
Aschieris: And I wanted to get your thoughts or your response to criticism from those who say what you’re doing is unprecedented. What is your response to that?
Tuberville: I don’t care what they say. I was an elected senator from the state of Alabama. Again, if I was affecting readiness—I do truly believe in our military and the things that we knew to be prepared. We’re as prepared now as we were last March when I started this. It is not affecting readiness at all.
I’ve had military personnel call me. I’ve had veterans. I had a letter from 5,000 veterans that said, “We’re all behind you, coach. Keep on doing this. We do not need a woke military.”
And that’s one other thing I’m very concerned about, is our military is becoming more woke every day. And a lot of these people that have vetted over the last four weeks after being on vacation, we’ve vetted all 300, 311, I think it’s up to now. And I’m very concerned about some of them.
So we need to understand that the most important thing that happens in this country is we have a very strong, dedicated, disciplined military and not one that’s woke, not one that goes by any criteria of diversity and equity.
Our military is not an equal opportunity employer, OK? I don’t care who you are. If you’re the best, that’s what you need to do. And your position in the military, we don’t need to go by quotas like we’re doing in all other facets of this country because it’s bringing us to the point of mediocracy. And we do not need that.
We need to be the best in the world and we’re not going to get there if we decide, “Hey, we’re going to use all these [diversity, equity, and inclusion] regulations, social justice regulations.” That needs to go out the window. And so, this is just a small part of what I’m trying to do to make our military stronger, not weaker.
Aschieris: And in terms of any sort of communications between you and anyone at the Pentagon, have you spoken with anyone about this policy? If so, when was the last time that you spoke with anyone?
Tuberville: Yeah. The last one was probably in July with the secretary of defense. I’ve had three calls from him. There’s been no negotiations.
“We need to change this back. You need to let us have our generals and admirals.” And I continue to say, “Listen, there needs to be some dialogue. We need to work on this. You’re holding it up as much as I am because you changed the memo. I didn’t.”
But it’s been very low. It should have been a lot more. I should have been called by the president of the United States if he’s so concerned about readiness. If I was a leader of this country and a leader of the free world, you bet you I’d been on the phone call, “Hey, get that senator on the phone. I want to talk to him.”
But it’s really not that big a deal for them. They could care less. They’re more worried about Ukraine or worried about climate control or climate change, whatever they want to call it. They’re worried about not having a border wall or turning our country over to criminals. They’re not concerned about this. If they were, they’d be in my office today wondering, “Hey, how can we fix this?”
Aschieris: And just in terms of what you’re hearing from people back home and grassroots conservatives, what are they telling you? What are you hearing about these military holds?
Tuberville: I’ve had almost 100% positive reaction from everybody that I’ve seen and talked to. I’ve traveled to six different states in the last four weeks talking about the farm bill. I’m on the Ag committee also. But just one after another, people say, “Coach, stand up for what you believe in and what we believe in.”
If you ask most people across this country, especially in the areas that I cover in the southeast, asked what’s the most important thing that we do as a federal government and a United States of America, they’d say military. They would say, “We need a strong military that believes in the Constitution and what we do.” And that’s kind of the people that I talk to.
Again, I know I’m doing the right thing. And again, there’s going to have to be some dialogue. I’m not going to change my mind unless they change this policy back the way it was. And let’s vote on it. And then if, again, it passes, it passes. But they don’t want to do it the right way. They want to do it their way, the socialist way, and I’m not going to put up with it.
Aschieris: Do you think that the D.C. bubble is out of touch with Republican voters on this issue?
Tuberville: Well, I think there’s a lot of people out of touch up here with reality about real life, about our country. And our country’s in trouble. We’re in trouble in a lot of different ways. We’re losing our identity as the place to live in the world.
I mean, we have a lot of people coming here for a better life across the border. But you can look at what’s happening with countries like Russia and Brazil and South America, India, China, they’re creating their own world around them called BRICS, using their own currency. They’re controlling most of the oil in the world as we speak.
Now, if you control the energy … all over the world that we live in, you control the world. And of course, Joe Biden and his administration, they believe in doing away with fossil fuels, and you can’t do that. They know it, we know it, but they’re trying to pull some foolish trick to try to put us in a situation where we’re beholding to Iran, Venezuela, Russia, all those other people that have oil, and it’s not going to work.
Aschieris: Now, I just want to shift topics a little bit and discuss another hot topic, and that is Title IX, an issue that you are extremely passionate about.
Back in June during a press briefing, EWTN’s White House correspondent referenced one of your tweets about Title IX. And more recently, as Fox News reported last week, “the White House said … that there is no yes or no answer when asked whether it is fair that transgender athletes take part in sports designated for biological females.” What are your thoughts on this?
Tuberville: Well, there’s no yes or no answer. It’s a no. Biological boys should not participate in sports against girls. I mean, bottom line.
I’ve worked in sports all my life. One of the few things and best things that’s ever happened here in Washington, D.C., was in 1972 when they passed Title IX and made it equal for girls and boys in sports in terms of funding, facilities, coaches. And look at the growth of women’s sports. It’s been unbelievable.
But now, after 50 years, this administration wants to tear Title IX up. They don’t believe in genders. They don’t believe in moral values. They’re trying to transition little kids, let them transition without telling their parents.
This group has absolutely lost their mind. I mean, they’re taking parents out of the equation of raising their kids. They want government to raise their kids, and that’s not going to happen on my watch. I’m going to fight it. You got a lot of other people who are going to fight it.
I cannot believe that there’s one Democrat senator or congressman that can look you in the eye and tell you that they’re for this. They can’t be because they’ve got daughters, they’ve got granddaughters.
And you’d look for fairness in life. In this country, that’s what we’re about. We’re about trust and fairness. Well, there’s no fairness or trust in anything that has to do with transitioning biological boys to compete against girls. It’s wrong, it’s unfair, and it’s unsafe.
Aschieris: Well, Sen. Tommy Tuberville, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s a pleasure to have you on the show and hope you’ll join us again soon in the future. Thanks so much.
Tuberville: Thanks for having me.
This article has been corrected to reflect that Tuberville is the senior senator from Alabama.
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