The United States Marine Corps (USMC) is without a commandant until the Department of Defense changes its policy on abortion. That is the resolution made by Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville. The congressman sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee and plans to block the appointment of a new Marine commandant until his demands are met.
This is the first time in more than 150 that the USMC has been officially without a commandant. For now, the corps' Deputy Commandant Gen. Eric M. Smith is filling in on a temporary basis. This is not the only appointment Senator Tuberville is blocking. There are 256 more high-ranking positions in the Armed Forces awaiting approval.
Tuberville’s block began in March, but it was only this week that Gen. David Berger stepped down from his post as USMC commandant, leaving the Marines’ top position vacant until further notice. At the heart of this issue is the Department of Defense's abortion policy. Pentagon employees enjoy some employment benefits and advantages for abortions, specifically, travel allowances and time off are provided to service members who must travel outside their state of residence to undergo an abortion or receive other reproductive care.
Illegal DOD financing
Tuberville argues that, since the Supreme Court overruled of the Roe v. Wade, which set a precedent for allowing abortion since 1976, it is illegal for the DOD to provide public funding incentives for abortion policies in the scenarios established by the Biden administration. "The law only allows the Department of Defense to facilitate and fund abortions in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother," Tuberville said in March.
Dems are mad because federal law prohibits the use of @DeptofDefense funds for abortion. DOD came up with a novel trick to circumvent that law. @TTuberville heard about the plan and warned DOD not to carry it out, telling @SecDef in clear terms what would happen if DOD did… https://t.co/nhQoJjIeAc
— Mike Lee (@BasedMikeLee) July 12, 2023
On Tuesday, Tuberville reiterated his intention to maintain the block on the appointments during the Senate plenary session. Tuberville defended himself from criticism and assured that the USMC is in good hands with General Smith in charge on an interim basis. According to Tuberville, there are no major alterations in the functions of the USMC.
Despite this, in the face of requests to unblock the appointments, Tuberville turned directly to his colleagues on the Democratic-majority Armed Services Committee. "If Democrats are so concerned about General Smith being an acting commander, let's vote," he said in reference to intervening DOD policy on abortion.
If Tuberville’s block continues, it will also affect other commanders at the top of the Armed Forces. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is scheduled to retire from his post in September 2024. As with the USCM, the Armed Services Committee must appoint the successor, but they cannot without Tuberville's vote.