Tuberville lifts hold on DOD nominees, threatens to block future picks

By Briana Reilly / December 9, 2022 at 12:34 PM

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) is threatening to block the confirmation process for future Defense Department nominees after lifting a separate hold he had placed to compel Pentagon officials to brief him about their implementation plan surrounding service members' reproductive health care access.

The original hold, which Tuberville announced Monday in a letter he sent to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, came as the senator sought to reschedule a previously canceled DOD briefing on the issue. That briefing ended up occurring Wednesday, and Tuberville lifted his hold following its conclusion, a spokesman said.

But Tuberville wrote in a follow-up letter to Austin today that the briefing revealed additional details about DOD’s “proposed changes to the department’s abortion policies,” which prompted him to threaten to “place a hold on all future DOD civilian and general/flag officer nominations.”

Those changes, which the letter alleges would “expand the number of abortions subsidized by the DOD” and “provide unrestricted access to abortion,” are expected to be implemented by year’s end, Tuberville wrote.

The latest letter comes in the wake of Austin’s mid-October announcement that he was directing DOD officials to set privacy protections surrounding reproductive health care information; release guidelines stipulating DOD health care providers not disclose reproductive health information to commanders except in special circumstances; and ensure commanders “display objectivity and discretion when addressing reproductive health care matters,” as laid out in a news release at the time.

Tuberville’s hold, if it comes, would apply from the time the policy is announced through the next Congress, potentially impacting all of next year’s nominees, the spokesman told Inside Defense today.