Sen. Elizabeth Warren blasted a Senate Republican Tuesday for blocking the confirmation of 184 Defense Department nominees over an abortion policy dispute. Not only is Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville blocking those nominees, Warren said, he’s “holding up pay raises for men and women in uniform, blocking key senior military leaders from taking their posts, and jeopardizing America’s national security.”
This stems from a temper tantrum Tuberville has been having since February, when the Department of Defense announced a new policy that grants leave and covers travel expenses for military personnel living in states with abortion bans to go to states where they can get the care they need.
“Holding up the promotions of every single military nominee isn’t democracy; it’s extortion, and that kind of extortion has serious consequences for our national defense,” Warren said on the Senate floor. “These holds pose a grave threat to our national security and military readiness. They actively hurt our ability to respond quickly to threats around the world.”
So far, none of the troop-loving, Pentagon-boosting Republicans in the Senate have opposed Tuberville, including the supposedly pro-choice Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins. That’s despite Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s testimony that the obstruction is harming national security. The delay has caused a “ripple effect in the force that makes us far less ready than we need to be,” Austin said.
According to another senior defense official, Tuberville’s block includes “five three-star officers” who were supposed to rotate to new jobs by summer, including “the commander of the Navy’s 5th Fleet, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, and the Pentagon’s representative on NATO’s military committee.”
Senate Republicans are turning a deaf ear to that harm, doubling down on their unpopular and dangerous abortion policies while actively damaging national security.
Brand-new polling from the Pew Research Center demonstrates how dangerous that policy platform could be for the Republicans in 2024, even in very red states. A “growing share of Americans living in states where abortion is prohibited say abortions are hard to obtain in their local area,” Pew reports. “And the share of people in these states who say access to abortion should be easier has increased since August 2019.”
In those abortion ban states, 38% said that abortion should be easier to get, up 11 points from a 2019 survey. Support for making abortions even harder to get dropped 4 points since 2019, from 32% to 28%. Again, this is in the Republican states these senators represent.
Opposing abortion and damaging the military is hardly a winning combination for Republicans, but at this point fighting Biden administration policies and appeasing the evangelical far right is the game plan, despite big losses on the issue in 2022.
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