White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) hold on over 160 Pentagon nominees over abortion policies could have an impact on U.S. military readiness.
“If it goes on too long, it could absolutely have an effect on military readiness around the world,” Kirby told reporters on Wednesday.
Tuberville has held up civilian and flag officer nominations over Defense Department policies on abortion, a move that forces the Democrat-controlled Senate to consider and vote on each nomination rather than approving them in batches.
Kirby said Tuberville’s block comes “at a time when we are still trying to support Ukraine, while we’re still facing challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.”
His comments echo Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday, who said there will be “powerful effects” on military readiness if Tuberville continues to hold up the nominees.
“When you hold these promotions up there is — as Secretary Austin said — a real ripple effect downstream,” Kirby said. “People can’t move onto the next job … they can’t assume their new jobs or responsibilities.”
The Defense Department allows for abortions in the case of rape or incest or if the health or life of the mother is endangered. And, in February, the agency updated its policies to include reimbursement and leave procedures.
Kirby noted that some Republicans have questioned if Tuberville’s strategy to hold up the nominees is the right way to go about fighting the policy.
“We certainly welcome that and agree with them,” the national security spokesman said.