Tuberville’s Anti-Abortion Crusade Leaves Army, Marines Without Leaders

Army Gen. James C. McConville retired on Friday without a confirmed replacement, thanks to Tuberville's protest against the Pentagon's abortion policy.

Tuberville’s Anti-Abortion Crusade Leaves Army, Marines Without Leaders
Photo:Kevin Dietsch (Getty Images)

Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) campaign against the Pentagon’s abortion policy has cost another military branch a permanent leader, after Gen. James C. McConville retired as the Army chief of staff on Friday.

Thanks to Tuberville’s one-man blockade of military promotions—which he’s been waging since March in protest of a Pentagon policy that aides military members in getting abortion care—two of the eight Joint Chiefs of Staff positions are now held by interim officeholders.

Because military members do not chose their own postings, many of which are in states hostile to abortion access, the Pentagon in February began to offer paid time off and travel reimbursement for service members and their dependents who need abortions. Tuberville, a former college football coach who has no expertise in the military or reproductive health who has no skin in the game other than being a run-of-the-mill anti-abortion right-winger, decided to take a stand, and now more than 300 military promotions have been held up because of him.

Normally, military promotions are a pretty uncontroversial action and the Senate approves them by unanimous consent. However, if even one senator (say, from Alabama) objects, the motion fails. Instead, Tuberville is calling for an up-and-down vote on every single promotion which, in the glacially paced Senate, would take months.

The U.S. Marine Corps was the first to lose its leader last month. Gen. David Berger’s retirement left the branch without a Senate-confirmed leader for the first time since 1859. And Berger and McConville aren’t the only leaders expected to step down. In the coming months, the departures of more than half of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are expected.

While celebrating McConville’s tenure, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin said on Friday that Tuberville’s continued blockade “is upending the lives” of military members and dependents. “This disruption is the last thing that America’s military families deserve,” he said.

Austin continued: “In our dangerous world, the security of the United States demands orderly and prompt transitions of our confirmed military leaders.”

The Senate is on recess right now, ostensibly a time for Senators to get a break to give them time to visit constituents. And maybe a trip away from Washington will open Tuberville’s eyes to just how out of hand this entire debacle has gotten.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin