Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, gave a strong constitutional defense of his colleague, Sen. Tommy Tuberville, after Defense Department officials attacked the Alabama Republican’s move to block Biden administration military promotions.
Tuberville is blocking around 300 military promotions until the Pentagon drops its policy of funding travel for women to get abortions. Democrats, the media, and more recently Pentagon officials have criticized his actions.
“While Americans may disagree on the legality of abortion, and they do, there has long been this overwhelming, bipartisan, supermajority understanding, first and foremost among the American people at large, and until very lately [there has] been that overwhelming, bipartisan, supermajority consensus among federally elected lawmakers that Americans are against tacitly supporting abortion with their taxpayer dollars,” Lee said in a Senate floor speech late Thursday.
“The last time I read the Constitution, as I noted earlier, it’s Congress that makes laws, not the Department of Defense,” Lee continued. “Sen. Tuberville is right to oppose this egregious policy. He is well within his rights—as a member of the United States Senate—to take this position. We should commend his courage and applaud his dedication to upholding his oath of office, his commitment to the Constitution, and standing for those who cannot stand, let alone speak, for themselves.”
Earlier this week, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said of Tuberville: “I would have never imagined that actually one of our own senators would actually be aiding and abetting communists and other autocratic regimes around the world.”
Lee expressed disappointment that a Pentagon official would effectively accuse a senator of “treason.”
“Personal attacks against members of Congress based on policy views certainly violate the high standard of decorum typically held by the leadership of the United States armed forces,” Lee said, adding, “This body should reject the ad hominem attack against Sen. Tuberville by Sec. Del Toro.”
Lee further noted that Democrats don’t believe the hold poses a threat to national security. Otherwise, the Pentagon would simply drop the abortion policy, or Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., would force a vote.
On Wednesday, Schumer said he wouldn’t force a floor vote on the confirmation of C.Q. Brown, President Joe Biden’s nominee to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The majority leader said, “This is a problem created by Republicans, and it’s up to them to solve it … We’re not going to shift the burden to Democrats when this is a Republican-caused problem.”
Lee said Schumer has the tools to get people confirmed but won’t use them.
“He told us why, because he’s having too much fun blaming Republicans for it,” Lee said.
Lee concluded his remarks—the last speech before the Senate adjourned to reconvene on Monday—asserting that Congress makes laws.
“Let this be a message to Sec. [Lloyd] Austin and Sec. Del Toro: If you want to make the laws, run for Congress. You can’t legislate from the E-Ring of the Pentagon,” Lee said. “Until then, stand down and leave the lawmaking to the lawmakers.”
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