Dems Threaten Tuberville after Going All-in on Abortion
There’s a danger for both parties of reading too much into last Tuesday’s elections. That message may already be lost on Democrats, who seem determined to take 2023’s results as a mandate to turn every meaningful policy discussion into a debate about abortion. But could they be overplaying their hand? Is the average voter so enamored with the killing of unborn babies that they’d be willing to stop the military’s funding over it? Apparently, Joe Biden’s party is willing to gamble everything to find out.
Last week’s results were a wake-up call for Republicans, but they were hardly a universal rebuke of pro-lifers. As so many experts have tried to explain, off-year, low-turnout, state-specific elections aren’t always the best way to interpret the country’s mood. The president’s party begs to differ, using their win in Ohio and other state races to run a strictly abortion playbook at the national level too.
In the Senate, that’s taken an ugly turn where Senator Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) nine-month crusade over the Pentagon’s unlawful abortion policy is concerned. The coach’s holds on military promotions were already unpopular on the Left, but in the days since November 7, the fight has turned downright nasty.
“Screw him,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) spat out angrily when reporters asked about the one-man blockade over the Pentagon’s illegal taxpayer-funded abortion scheme. “He lost,” the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee claimed, “and he’s trying to tear down this country, because he disagrees with the policy.” If Republicans stand by him, Smith warned, “we will not have an NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act]. And I don’t believe they will insist on that.”
The only people trying to tear down this country, Tuberville has argued, are the ones who refuse to abide by the law. And that law, he and his fellow Senate brother-in-arms, Mike Lee (R-Utah), have pointed out, bans taxpayer-funded abortion on demand in the military. That’s been the policy since 1984, and just because Democrats don’t like it doesn’t mean they snap their fingers and pretend it doesn’t exist.
“This is a policy that is illegal and immoral,” the longtime coach reminded his colleagues on the Senate floor. “This is about life, and it’s also about the rule of law. It’s about our Constitution. It’s about whether we make laws at the Pentagon or whether we follow the Constitution. … I cannot simply sit idly by while the Biden administration injects politics in our military and spends taxpayer money on abortion.”
As for the fate of the NDAA, the House passed its version of the bill back in July — and, much to Smith’s displeasure, it already includes an amendment forcing the Defense Department to comply with the law. “Federal law has long prohibited military hospitals and health insurance from providing or covering abortions except in cases of rape, incest or the mother’s life being at risk,” the Wall Street Journal explains. In fact, they remind people somewhat ironically, “Then-Sen. Joe Biden voted for the 1984 codification of that restriction.”
This isn’t about “restricting access to abortion,” as the Left complains, it’s about maintaining the status quo — which is that Americans shouldn’t be forced to spend their hard-earned dollars taking the lives of children in the womb.
To some members, like Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), the idea that Democrats would literally threaten to pull the plug on the military’s funding in a time of war is “just crazy.” “To what extent will the Democrats go [to] … make sure abortions are performed?” he asked on “Washington Watch” Friday. Because whatever that is, he insisted, “this is a step further.” “To hold up the NDAA in an attempt to force taxpayer dollars to be used for these efforts, that is really, really wrong.”
Nor is this a pressing demand from our troops. Before Biden unilaterally changed the policy, the military was averaging less than 20 abortions a year. If the Pentagon’s rule stands, “the number of abortions subsidized by taxpayers through the DOD could increase to 4,100 annually — 205 times the number of abortions performed last year” if the expanded abortion policy remains in place.
So who’s being extreme here, former Congressman Jody Hice wanted to know? The pro-lifers wanting America to be governed by the rule of law — or Democrats, who want to cut off pay and supplies to our troops in their bloodthirsty quest for death? “We have members of Congress literally ready to burn down funding the military in order to support abortion.” Democrats have gone “way, way overboard,” Rosendale agreed. “They see … the Biden administration as their opportunity to push policies that they’ve been keeping under cover for quite some time.” And yet, Rosendale pointed out, even with the GOP’s slim majority in the House, this was the first time the NDAA passed with all Republican votes ever.
“And that’s because it was an incredibly great document,” he said. “We removed taxpayer funding for abortions. We removed taxpayer funding for transgender surgeries. We removed taxpayer funding for battery-operated Jeeps. I mean, these are things that all they do is distract from the military’s mission, which is to be the most effective and feared fighting force on Earth. That is what they are supposed to be. And anything that’s being funded that is not taking care of that mission is nothing more than a distraction. So we pulled all those distractions out.”
House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry (R-Pa.) insists that they all have Tuberville’s back. “I don’t care,” he shrugged about the Democrats’ threats. “We need to focus on readiness and lethality. They can say whatever they want to, but our military is focused on the wrong things and that’s a problem.”
Unfortunately, that sentiment isn’t shared by Tuberville’s own chamber, where five Republicans have inexplicably turned their fire on the coach. In a move completely baffling to pro-lifers, Senators Joni Ernst (Iowa), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Todd Young (Ind.), Mitt Romney (Utah), and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) seem determined to carry the water for Biden’s pro-abortion agenda. In one profanity-laced tirade, Sullivan’s hostility rivaled even Adam Smith’s. But then, betrayal is the name of the game for four of those senators, who showed how uncommitted they are to the core values of the Republican Party when they voted for same-sex marriage. Turning against life was apparently the next logical step.
The entire strategy of abandoning the contrast between the two parties is foolhardy. “Democrats make much better Democrats than weak-kneed Republicans. We will never beat them at their own game,” Lee insisted. “Ever. Nor should we try.”
He, along with 26 other Senate Republicans, showed their support for the Alabama coach by sending a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, demanding the Pentagon reverse the policy that bypassed the legislative process. “You have broken your promise to the American people not to politicize the military, and your actions have harmed and threaten to further harm institutional norms within our democracy,” they wrote. “All legislative power is vested in Congress, and the Executive branch is responsible for implementing and enforcing the law,” they explain. “… But Congress never authorized the Department to expend funds to facilitate abortions and, until the Policy was issued, the military never facilitated abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother would be endangered if the unborn child were carried to term.”
Meanwhile, Tuberville has been more than willing to work with his own party and the president’s, but, as he pointed out, neither side has exactly been rushing to negotiate. Only last week did the GOP conference finally sit down and hash through some options after the embarrassing spectacle on the Senate floor days earlier. As for the White House, the Alabama senator said their communication has been “Zero.”
“This has been a long nine months for all of us,” Tuberville admitted. “Every day this continues is a day that my Democratic colleagues think abortion is more important than these nominations.” They’re mistaken — just as they’re mistaken that voters gave them a blank check to pursue the culture of death at all costs, including our national security.
If Biden’s party wants to explain why the destruction of innocent life is more important than defending Americans during a global crisis, that’s their choice. But don’t expect it to be a popular one.
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.