Sen. Tommy Tuberville has a new ally supporting his monthslong blockade of military promotions: former Vice President Mike Pence.
Mr. Tuberville, Alabama Republican, has protested the Pentagon’s policy of reimbursing costs for service members who travel to get an abortion for nearly six months. His protest has prevented hundreds of Pentagon nominations from having Senate confirmation votes.
Mr. Pence said during a speech in D.C. on Friday that if elected, he would nix the Department of Defense policy at the center of Mr. Tuberville’s argument.
“Senator Tommy Tuberville is right, and the Pentagon is wrong,” Mr. Pence said.
Mr. Pence’s support comes amid growing bipartisan criticism of the holds. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is also vying for the Republican presidential nomination, agreed that the Pentagon’s policy was wrong, but blasted Mr. Tuberville for “using military families as political pawns.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Michael McCaul also went after Mr. Tuberville for the holds. Mr. McCaul, Texas Republican, said that the senator was paralyzing the Pentagon and that Mr. Tuberville’s unwillingness to budge was causing a national security issue — a point that Senate Democrats and Pentagon officials have been reiterating throughout the standoff.
The holds have already left the top positions in the Army, Military and Navy without permanent leaders. Pressure is mounting to resolve the standoff as Gen. Mark Milley, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is slated to retire by the end of the month.
Hundreds of military family members have also signed a petition urging Mr. Tuberville to end the holds.
Meanwhile, Mr. Tuberville has asserted that he will back down from his stance if Democratic leadership in the Senate holds a vote on the policy.
He has also blamed the Biden administration for the holds, accusing the White House of injecting politics into the military — the Pentagon’s abortion policy was enacted following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.