Pentagon slams Tuberville for setting ‘dangerous precedent’ by holding up nominations

The Pentagon on Tuesday slammed Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) for setting a "dangerous precedent" by holding up more than 200 general and flag officer nominations over the Defense Department's new abortion policy.

"Without these leaders in place, these holes severely limit the department's ability to ensure the right person is in place at the right time, and to ensure a strategic readiness and operational success," said Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh at a Tuesday briefing.

Singh said the holdup was placing Washington's ability to counter Russia and China at risk.

"These holds set a dangerous precedent and puts our military readiness at risk at a time when our military is expected to defend the nation and meet the acute threat of Russia and address the pacing challenge of the PRC," she continued, referring to the People's Republic of China.

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Tuberville has been blocking the nominees from confirmation in the Senate since March over the Pentagon's policy, which provides paid time off and reimburses travel costs for servicemembers who travel for an abortion.

Last week, the White House also blasted the holdup, following rebukes from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and seven former Pentagon chiefs who have also warned about the precedent of blocking the nomination of important military officers.

The blockade could also end up impacting nominees for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including the replacement for chairman and Gen. Mark Milley later this year.

President Biden this week said Tuberville's block on the nominees was "bizarre," prompting a response from the senator.

"What is actually bizarre is Joe Biden's obsession with making taxpayers pay for abortion without Congress ever taking a vote," Tuberville tweeted. "It’s bizarre and it’s wrong."

Tuberville says the policy, enacted last year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, is a violation of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds to pay for abortion services.

The Alabama senator is refusing to back down and has reportedly rejected off-ramps from fellow Republican colleagues, saying he will only support an end to the blockade if the Pentagon drops the policy or if the policy is codified in law.