An organization that advocates for military families on Monday hand delivered a petition signed by more than 500 active duty military spouses to Sen. Tommy Tuberville that calls the senator’s months-long hold on military nominations “highly inappropriate and unpatriotic.”
“No matter your political beliefs, we must agree that service members and military families will not be used as political leverage,” reads the petition organized by the nonpartisan Secure Families Initiative. “It’s time to end this political showmanship and recommit to respect the service and sacrifice of those who pledge to defend this nation.”
Tuberville has blocked the nominations of more than 280 military officers since February over Department of Defense policies that expand abortion access, including reimbursing military members for travel to obtain an abortion if they are serving in an area where the procedure is illegal.
The senator contends the policies are unlawful and that they would need congressional approval.
Sarah Streyder, executive director of Secure Families Initiative and a military spouse, said the organization supports the new Defense policies because military members and their families have no say in where they are based. But even if the hold on nominations was made for a cause the group agreed with, it would not stand for a “political stunt,” she said.
“No matter the party and no matter the issue, the tactic is still harmful,” she said.
Any senator who disagrees with the Defense policies “should settle it through normal legislative or administrative channels,” the petition reads.
“It is highly inappropriate and unpatriotic to wage a political battle by using military service members as pawns,” it goes on to say.
In a statement, Streyder called said Tuberville’s stalling “harms each and every one of our actively serving military families.”
“How are we supposed to trust our political leaders to make decisions over war and peace when they play partisan ploys with our futures?” she said. “This isn’t a football game; this nonsense needs to stop right now.”
The petition was also sent Monday to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
It calls on the Senate leaders to “reiterate to Sen. Tuberville the dangers and ramifications of his political grandstanding; work together to resolve political and ideological disagreements outside the military space; and “expeditiously confirm all blocked promotions and fill existing vacancies.”
Schumer could invoke procedural moves to circumvent the hold, but Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., told the Associated Press that it would take at least 84 days to confirm all the nominees if the Senate worked eight hours a day or at least 27 days if the chamber toiled “around the clock.”
Meanwhile, Tuberville had his own petition drive last week, delivering the signatures of 5,000 veterans who agree with his stand to Schumer and McConnell.
“The mission of the United States military is to defend and protect all American lives – not subsidize the practice of destroying innocent and vulnerable American children via abortion with taxpayer dollars,” said the veterans who signed the letter. “By pledging to hold these nominations to the Department of Defense until administration officials reverse course, Senator Tuberville is doing a great service for the American people – including its service members.”
And the liberal veterans advocacy group VoteVets, which launched ads in Alabama and on social media criticizing Tuberville, said it amassed the signatures of 18,000 veterans and military family members who disagree with the senator.