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Senate panel fails to advance bill revoking Pentagon abortion policy.

The Senate Armed Services Committee Fails to Advance Bill to Reverse Pentagon’s Abortion Policy

The Senate Armed Services Committee failed to advance a bill from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) on Wednesday that would have reversed the Pentagon’s abortion policy, which has been at the center of Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) blockade of some 250 senior military officers in the Senate.

Ernst’s bill to revoke the Pentagon’s new policy was voted down on party lines inside the panel’s closed-door markup on Wednesday, according to reporting from Punchbowl News.

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The Department of Defense released a series of new policies in February that allow for time off and travel expenses for abortion for troops and their dependents in states where it is not available. Tuberville believes the policy, put into place in response to the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade last year, is a violation of a federal law that limits federal funding of abortions to cases of rape, incest, or threats to the life of the mother. He has vowed to hold up the nominations of general and flag officers until the Pentagon drops the policy.

Ernst introduced a bill in March that would reverse the policy and early last week floated to Tuberville a committee vote on that measure as a stand-alone bill outside of the National Defense Authorization Act. In exchange, Tuberville would drop his hold, but he hasn’t been satisfied with that offer. Democrats decided to move forward with the vote anyway in an effort to draw more attention to Tuberville’s constant refusal to negotiate.

“I don’t think there should be any holds on any of these positions at all,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Ahead of the vote, Tuberville continued to insist that the vote would not impact his blockade even if it had advanced out of committee.

“Schumer is not going to bring it to the floor. So, I’m not going to drop holds, knowing it’s not even going to make it out of this committee,” Tuberville said late last week.

Behind the scenes, some of Tuberville’s colleagues have tried to talk with him about alternatives, which could suggest Republican leadership is growing weary of the stalemate.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued his strongest rebuke of Tuberville’s holds to date on Wednesday while also stressing that he agreed with the Alabama senator’s view of the policy.

“I think holding the military personnel who have nothing to do with policy in order to try to dictate a policy change that I personally support is not the best way to go about it,” McConnell said during his weekly press conference. “As you can see, he has a different point of view.”

Currently, there does not appear to be a clear path to resolving the impasse as Tuberville’s holds enter a fourth month.


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