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Pentagon will not negotiate with Tuberville on abortion travel policy

In late July, Tuberville indicated he was prepared to keep the hold in place through the August recess and warned the White House to "start talking."

Published: August 16, 2023 4:21pm

The Department of Defense has adamantly insisted it will not negotiate with Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville over its policy of providing paid leave for military servicemembers to obtain abortions, even as a number of key positions go without Senate-confirmed leaders.

"We've been very clear, we don't have anything to negotiate with here. We continue to urge the Senate to confirm our outstanding nominees," said Deputy Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh, according to the Washington Examiner.

Tuberville has placed a blanket hold on Senate confirmations for key Pentagon nominees in protest of the Department of Defense policy of funding travel for abortion purposes. The Pentagon's decision earlier this year prompted the hold from Tuberville, which currently affects roughly 300 nominees. While he cannot block their confirmations on his own, he can force the Senate to confirm individual hearings and votes for each, though the upper chamber remains disinclined to take that approach.

"No, we're not going to change our policy on ensuring that every single service member has equitable access to reproductive healthcare," Singh asserted. "If you are a service member stationed in a state that has rolled back or restricted healthcare access, you are often stationed there because you were assigned there, it is not that you chose to go there. And so, a service member in Alabama deserves to have the same access to healthcare as a service member in California, as a service member stationed in Korea."

"It's not an abortion policy. The department does not have an abortion policy. We have a healthcare policy and we have a travel policy that allows for our service members to take advantage of healthcare that should be accessible to them," she concluded.

Tuberville's hold has remained in place for months and he shows little inclination to end it with concessions, even as he faces mounting calls to end his unilateral hold.

Earlier this week, the Navy become the third military branch without a Senate-confirmed leader, prompting accusations that the hold is compromising military readiness. The Alabama Republican denies such claims and has noted that many of President Joe Biden's nominees currently occupy the officially vacant posts in acting capacities.

In late July, Tuberville indicated he was prepared to keep the hold in place through the August recess and warned the White House to "start talking."

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.

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