GOP's Tommy Tuberville singlehandedly blocks military promotions to protest abortion

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) is single-handedly blocking a handful of military promotions to protest a Pentagon directive giving service members access to abortion services.

The Alabama Republican is holding up 160 promotions, which usually sail through the Senate Armed Services Committee, to force the Department of Justice to reverse a February policy directive that Republicans say amounts to using taxpayer funds for abortions, reported Punchbowl News.

“I hate to have to do this, it’s unfortunate, but we make the laws over here -- the DoD doesn’t," Tuberville said. "This is not about abortion. It’s about taxpayer-funded abortions … If this was about a list of personnel, people actually doing the fighting, this might be different … If this had to do with winning a war, obviously I wouldn’t be doing this.”

Although other GOP senators on the Armed Services panel agreed with Tuberville's objection, they're not entirely comfortable with his decision to use the promotions -- which includes commanders assigned to theaters with active conflicts -- as leverage in the domestic policy spat.

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“Clearly, on the DoD policy, I absolutely agree with Sen. Tuberville,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), the ranking Republican on the committee. “That said, there are a lot of military positions that need to be filled, and so we’re working with leadership and Sen. Tuberville to see what can be resolved.”

The second-ranking Republican on the panel was more blunt.

"It’s a tactic that he chose to use," said Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE). "He has that right as a senator. It’s not one that I would use.”

Committee chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) warned that Tuberville's blockade would disrupt the military "at the highest levels," but some Republicans are cheering on the former college football coach from the sidelines.

“I think what [the Pentagon is] doing is illegal," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). "I don’t think they have the authority to do this. Basically they’re setting a policy to give people leave, to use taxpayer dollars, which I think runs afoul of existing law.”