Politicians from both sides of the aisle are pressuring Sen. Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) to let Senate military confirmations proceed as usual, citing national security concerns.

Tuberville’s almost nine-month hold on confirming military promotions en-masse routinely generates sensational headlines calling his efforts a “military blockade” or “military freeze.”

But the truth is more nuanced than media snippets can convey.

Here’s what you need to know to converse thoughtfully and accurately about Senator Tuberville’s hold on grouped military promotions.


The Senate must confirm the hundreds of military promotions recommended by the President every year. Rather than voting on each promotion individually, senators usually vote unanimously to approve hundreds of promotions at once.

Tuberville voted against traditional group approval of some Department of Defense (DOD) military promotions in March after it implemented policies “ensuring access to non-covered reproductive healthcare” in February.

What’s wrong with the DOD’s new policies?

Senator Tuberville believes the DOD’s “healthcare” provisions violate the Hyde Amendment, which stops the government from using taxpayers’ money to perform or promote abortions.

Taxpayers fund the DOD which means it can’t pay for soldiers’ abortions except in cases of rape, incest and pregnancies threatening the mothers’ life.

The DOD’s new policies attempt to circumnavigate these restrictions by giving soldiers and their dependents paid time-off and travel expenses to get abortions (referred to as “reproductive healthcare” not covered by the DOD’s insurance) in abortion-friendly states.

While not directly covering abortions, the DOD is using taxpayer money to facilitate them, Tuberville argues, which is still illegal.

“Senator Tuberville has made crystal clear that his opposition to the pro-abortion Pentagon policy is rooted in the violation of the Hyde Amendment which bans federal taxpayer dollars flowing to pay for abortion or abortion promotion,” Timothy Goeglein, Vice President of Government and External Relations at Focus on the Family, explains.

He continues,

If the Pentagon will follow the law set forth by Hyde, and remove itself from the abortion matrix, the senator’s opposition would be lifted. The issue is a fundamental pro-life policy stance, and the senator is withstanding colossal pressure as he continues to defend the innocent pre-born.

Does that mean we can’t promote anyone in the military until Tuberville relents?


Tuberville only refuses to comply with the unanimous vote required to approve multiple promotions at the same time. Individual nominations can still be approved by a normal vote.

That’s why General Charles Q. Brown Jr. was able to be promoted to Charmain of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September.

Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer has hesitated to introduce individual votes, arguing that approving promotions in batches, rather than one at a time, prevents politicization of the military.

Confirming each of the hundreds of promotions individually would take an estimated 700 hours, The Hill reports.

Are there hundreds of vacancies in military jobs?


Tuberville’s hold-ups keep people in their current jobs, rather than allowing them to move to their promoted jobs. Vacancies only occur in the cases of retirements or dismissals.

When Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley retired effective October 1, the Senate confirmed General Charles Q. Brown Jr. to fill his job more than a week ahead of time.

How does Tuberville’s hold affect military readiness?

The promotion delay is an undeniable inconvenience for the military, but the effects will slowly affect domestic functions before they affect strategic and military operations.

Opponents of Tuberville frequently cite Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who testified the hold weakens the U.S. command of key military positions.

But Austin later clarified the consequences would slowly effect domestic functions before strategic and military operations.

“The effects are cumulative,” Austin testified, “and will affect families. It will affect kids going to schools because they won’t be able to change their duty station. And so it has a powerful effect and will impact our readiness.”

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby explained,

When you hold these promotions up, as Secretary Austin said, there is a real ripple effect downstream because now people can’t move on to the next job and they can’t leave the one that they’re in, and they can’t assume these new jobs of responsibility. If it goes on too long, it could absolutely have an effect on U.S. military readiness around the world.

Why are Republicans split on this issue?

Republicans opposing Tuberville believe the cumulative effects of his ban are affecting military readiness.

The schism came to a head in November, reports the Washington Post, after the Israel-Hamas war broke out and the Commandant of the Marine Corp experienced unexpected heart problems.

Sens. Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Todd Young (Ind.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) publicly confronted Tuberville for compromising national security. Tuberville also rejected each of Sullivan and Ernst’s calls for individual confirmation votes, claiming he wanted each to move through a process of debate called regular order.

Other Republican higher-ups, like Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, feel Tuberville’s stance, while moral, unduly harms military families and service-members.

Is Tuberville softening under pressure?


Tuberville is motivated to get people promoted based on background checks, Tuberville told reporters Friday,

This is not [about] a private moving to a sergeant and getting one more stripe. This is [about] people that are running our military. I think that we need to make sure that people that are our generals and admirals should be vetted to some degree, but also understand that we need to get these people promoted, and it’s been a long time for some of them.”

The senator also appealed to common purpose between the parties, continuing,

“I’m going to sit down and talk to a couple of people on the Democratic side and see what they think, because they’ve done some of the same things, they’ve looked at a lot of these people too, and I think at the end of the day, some of these upper echelon people should be individually brought through a nomination process, and not just ramrodded through.”

Tuberville’s subtle change in tune could be influenced by a resolution introduced last week that would suspend Senate rules and allow blanket approval of multiple nominations. This rule change requires 60 votes to pass, which means several Republicans would have to support it.

“Republicans have viewed the resolution as a last-ditch effort to unlock the military promotions if Tuberville does not relent on his own,” The Hill writes.

Putting it Together

The Bible commands believers to protect and value life — and lives are at stake on both sides of this issue.

Believers who support Sen. Tuberville’s actions might argue blatant, government-funded and -facilitated abortions threaten more lives than the cumulative inconveniences of halting military promotions. In the same vain, believers might strongly oppose using the military to introduce pro-abortion healthcare policy.

Believers who don’t support his stance might have a different estimation of the senator’s effect on the military. If cumulative disfunction in the military leads to weakened position in key areas like the Middle East, American lives could be at stake at-home and abroad.

These aren’t the only two ways believers can look at the problem. For instance, some Republicans have suggested Tuberville and his colleagues take the DOD to court for illegally spending tax-payer money. Some believers might think a legislative solution like this one a good way to preserve military stability and take a stand for life.

Tuberville will probably take-up a chunk of your news this week — so read up! Think carefully through the evidence on both sides of the issue, and use discernment to determine which stance best stands for life.