The Biden administration accuses Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., of putting national security “at risk” with his holds on moving President Biden’s military nominations forward but is refusing to consider a path that would allow some to proceed.
Fox News Digital posed the question to administration officials: Why not call on Democratic leaders controlling the Senate to push through the nominations on a case-by-case basis if national security truly is at risk? The idea was dismissed outright.
One senior administration official told Fox News Digital that allowing individual promotions or nominations to be voted on one at a time would set a bad precedent for future administrations and for the military in general.
The official gave no indication the administration would budge on its new policy to reimburse the cost of transportation to service members or their families traveling to get an abortion, the main reason for Tuberville’s holds to begin with.
From left to right: Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., and President Biden.(Getty Images)
The hold is preventing hundreds of nominations and promotions from passing by “unanimous consent,” a process that lets senators save time by moving them forward as a group rather than voting on each one individually. But the slower case-by-case path would allow important nominations to proceed, potentially mitigating some of the alleged harm.
Tuberville isn’t planning to relent until the Pentagon reverses the new change to its abortion funding policy.
“I told [Defense] Secretary Austin if you change this, I’m going to put a hold on your admirals and generals, and I’m not going to change back until you move the policy back. I don’t think they believed me,” Tuberville told Fox. “If they want to do it, they can bring them to the floor one at a time and we can vote on them. And I would probably vote on most of them and would look forward to doing that. But they have not wanted to work with me at all.
“All they’ve tried to do is bash me and call me names and do all those things. That’s what the Democrats do. That’s what this party has done since they’ve been in power going on three years. They’ve not been told ‘no’ in three years until this point,” he said. “I’m not going to change my mind. They have not tried to meet me in the middle. They have not tried to compromise.”
The Biden administration, Democratic senators, and a number of liberal media figures have increasingly targeted Tuberville over his holds since they started in February. On Monday, the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force pinned a joint op-ed in The Washington Post blasting Tuberville’s stance as “dangerous,” and claimed he was “blocking” the promotions. However, they didn’t make any mention of the Senate being able to vote on them individually.
The Pentagon in Washington, DC, on May 10, 2023, in an aerial view. (DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)
Fox News Digital reached out to each of the military branches multiple times to ask why they had not called on the Senate to take up the nominations for the positions in dire need of being filled, but they either wouldn’t offer an on-the-record response or didn’t respond at all. The office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The Biden administration official who spoke with Fox stressed the length of time it would take to confirm hundreds of individual nominations — more than 300 leadership positions in the DoD were vacant as of last month, a number that some say could grow to more than 600 by the end of the year if Tuberville continues his holds.
Tuberville dismissed that notion, telling Fox: “They could have had all these nominations confirmed if they had just done them one at a time and taken a couple of hours every day and had four or five or six of them. But they refused to do that.”
The senator later warned that the Biden administration, following the overturning of Roe v. Wade last year, wanted “to do as many abortions as they possibly can through federal employees” because they could control that process outside of state laws limiting abortion.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., talks during a television interview before former President Donald Trump speaks at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Tuesday, June 13, 2023.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
He added that his ability, as a member of the Senate’s minority party, to stop Democrats from ramming through any policy they wanted was limited to utilizing the hold.
“I’ve told them the only way that I’ll take the holds off is if they move the policy back the way it was, because it was voted in by Congress. Move it back and then send a bill that they want us to vote on to the Senate, and we’ll vote on it. And if it passes, it passes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But I will release the holds only on that premise,” Tuberville said.
Brandon Gillespie is an associate editor at Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @brandon_cg.