One senator’s abortion protest leaves the Marine Corps without a permanent leader

For the first time in over 150 years, the U.S. Marine Corps lacks a senate-confirmed commandant due to protest by Senator Tommy Tuberville over the Pentagon’s decision to support service members seeking out of state abortions.

Background: Tuberville, a Republican Senator from Alabama, has held back military officer nominations since the beginning of the year, leaving approximately 265 officer roles pending to date.
* The previous Marine Corps Commandant, Gen. David Berger, retired on Monday, leaving the role open. Gen. Eric Smith, who was nominated as Berger’s successor, is currently performing both his previous role and the commandant’s duties until the Senate confirms him.

The Impact: The delays in confirmation, according to Pentagon spokesperson Singh, have a “huge impact” across the force.
* Some officers are delaying retirement, taking on higher duties without increased pay, or dealing with family relocation issues.
* In a few cases, military family members have had to withdraw from schools and halt employment due to the uncertainty of their relocation dates.

Concerns on National Security: Implications on national security became evident during the nomination hearing of Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. as the next chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
* General Mark Milley, the current Chairman, is set to retire this year once his term expires.
* Senator Tuberville indicated Brown’s confirmation would be separate from other nominations and wouldn’t face delays.

Opposition Motivation: Tuberville has stated that his move is in response to the Pentagon’s 2022 decision to support service members and their families in traveling out of state to receive an abortion.
* He argues the policy uses taxpayer money to fund abortions in violation of the Hyde Amendment that prohibits federal funds for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or risk to the mother’s life.
* The Pentagon argues they only fund travel, not the procedure itself.

View original article on NPR

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