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The Daily

A One-Man Blockade Against the U.S. Military

Mon Jul 24 2023
Tommy TubervilleMilitary PromotionsAbortion AccessDefense BillConservative Social Policy


The episode covers Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville's blockade of military promotions as a political protest against the Biden administration. It explores the impact on the military and abortion access, as well as the obstacles in passing the defense bill due to conservative social policy.


Tuberville's Blockade Threatens Military Readiness

Senator Tuberville's blockade of military promotions has caused a backlog of senior uniform commanders and raised concerns about national security and military readiness.

Far-Right Republicans Push for Conservative Social Policies

Far-right Republicans have attached measures to bar abortion access and target health coverage for transgender individuals and diversity training initiatives to the defense bill, jeopardizing military funding.

Culture Wars Stall Defense Bill

The defense bill has become a battleground for culture wars, with social issues causing bipartisan support to diminish and hindering the passage of the bill in Congress.


  1. Tommy Tuberville's Blockade
  2. Impact on Military and Abortion Access
  3. Obstacles in Passing the Defense Bill

Tommy Tuberville's Blockade

00:02 - 07:55

  • Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville has been blocking military promotions as a political protest against the Biden administration.
  • Tuberville's opposition stems from his conservative Republican platform and belief that spending money to facilitate abortion is illegal.
  • The Pentagon implemented a policy offering time off and travel reimbursement for service members needing reproductive care in states with limited access, which Tuberville opposed.
  • Tuberville threatened to prevent the promotion of generals and admirals if the policy was implemented, and followed through on his threat.
  • The Biden administration ignored Tuberville's threat and implemented the policy anyway.
  • Tuberville's ability to block promotions comes from exploiting the need for unanimous consent in the Senate.
  • Weeks went by with Tuberville maintaining his blockade, prompting efforts to get him to stand down.

Impact on Military and Abortion Access

07:36 - 15:10

  • Senator Tuberville demands that Congress settle the issue of abortion access in the military through an act of Congress.
  • Tuberville's all or nothing approach creates a blockade, causing a backlog of senior uniform commanders who haven't been promoted.
  • The Joint Chiefs of Staff are affected by the lack of Senate confirmation for over half of its members, potentially impacting military policy decisions.
  • Abortion laws in the country are affecting women's willingness to serve in the military.
  • Senior members of the military express concern about how this blockade could affect national security and military readiness.
  • Tuberville dismisses these concerns and argues for a focus on defense rather than social issues like abortion access.
  • Tuberville gains support from far-right Republicans who make this a fight against the Pentagon and push for conservative social policies.
  • Far-right Republicans successfully attach Tuberville's plan to bar abortion access to service members needing to leave the state for an abortion to the National Defense Authorization Act.
  • They also target health coverage for people transitioning gender and diversity training initiatives in their bill.

Obstacles in Passing the Defense Bill

14:58 - 22:21

  • The House defense bill has become a forum for culture wars, with social issues being added and causing bipartisan support to diminish.
  • Passing the defense bill in Congress is now uncertain due to the split on conservative social policy.
  • Far-right Republicans have gained power and are jeopardizing military funding by making social issues central to the bill.
  • Republican leaders lack the power to stop one senator from objecting or change the influence of far-right Republicans in the House.
  • Tommy Tuberville's blockade may only be resolved by going around it and individually voting on promotions, which would be time-consuming.
  • Chuck Schumer is unlikely to take this approach for all promotions stuck in backlog, as it would set a precedent for future protests.
  • Caving on abortion access policy would not be unprecedented for the Biden administration, but Democrats see it as a winning issue for elections.