U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, is continuing his military confirmations hold amid an escalating Israel-Palestine conflict.
Saturday morning the militant arm of the Palestinian group Hamas began an attack on Israel which has resulted in over 700 Israeli deaths, more than 2,000 injuries, and numerous hostages being taken back to Gaza, according to Israeli authorities. Israel responded by launching airstrikes into Gaza, killing more than 400 Palestinian people and wounding more than 2,300 according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
The Israel-Palestine conflict spans decades and contains an extensive history of war and land claims. Israel took over the Gaza Strip in 2007 and has since imposed an air, sea and land blockade of the area containing over 2 million Palestinian people packed into a 141 square mile area. The area is one of the largest densely populated places in the world and has been compared to being an “open air-prison.”
Since Israel is a U.S. ally, President Joe Biden has promised support as America plans to send military ships and aircraft closer to Israel. But in the Senate several Democrats have also called on Tuberville to remove his blockade on military promotions, which the Alabama senator remains steadfast in continuing. According to Politico, a Tuberville spokesperson said the senator was going to continue his hold until the Pentagon revoked it’s policy covering expenses for travel related to accessing reproductive healthcare and abortion access.
Tuberville began blocking military promotions in March and has since held up over 300 military promotions. This also includes top officers recommended for positions covering the Middle East.
Senate Armed Services Chair Jack Reed condemned Tuberville’s actions in Politico, saying America needs seamless military leadership in situations like Israel and it is being denied by the former football coach.
“The severity of the crisis in Israel underscores the foolishness of Senator Tuberville’s blockade,” Reed said. “The United States needs seamless military leadership in place to handle dangerous situations like this and Senator Tuberville is denying it.”
Tuberville has not publicly commented on criticisms about his hold related to Israel. But the Senator did take to X, to respond to a Fox News reporter stating how Tuberville’s hold was preventing the U.S. from confirming a chief naval of operations.
“Forcing taxpayers to fund elective, late-term abortions or unanimous consent of 300 senior military promotions…the Biden Administration is showing us exactly what they care about. It’s not our national defense. It’s killing babies.”
However, the Department of Defense (DOD) policy does not fund elective late-term abortions as Tuberville claims. In a press release on Feb. 16, the DOD gave instructions and guidance for service members to access “non-covered” reproductive healthcare meaning medical care that would be at the service members’ expense, not the DOD. The only expense that DOD is paying for is the travel and transportation related to service members accessing reproductive healthcare if they are stationed in an area where access to “non-covered reproductive healthcare services is not available.”
“Travel and transportation allowances may be authorized for Service members and dependents to travel to access non-covered reproductive health care,” the press release stated. “Travel and transportation allowances may be authorized when access to non-covered reproductive health care services is not available within the local area of the member’s permanent duty station, temporary duty location, or the last location the dependent was transported on Government orders. The non-covered reproductive health care is at the Service member’s expense. Our Service members and their families do not control where they are stationed, and due to the nature of military service, are frequently required to travel or move to meet operational requirements. The efforts taken by the Department today will not only ensure that Service members and their families are afforded time and flexibility to make private health care decisions, but will also ensure Service members are able to access non-covered reproductive health care regardless of where they are stationed.”
Two weeks ago, Tuberville claimed he was most pro-military before Democratic veteran Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Arizona, swiftly rebutted.