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Republicans go after Tuberville again

But this time the pro-life stalwart had backup

Sen. Mike Lee speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Sept. 30, 2020. Associated Press/Photo by Stefani Reynolds

Republicans go after Tuberville again
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Three weeks ago, a group of Senate Republicans went to the floor to fight against Sen. Tommy Tuberville and his righteous stand against the Department of Defense’s illegal abortion policies. On Nov. 14, they did it again. For three hours in the middle of the night, Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Todd Young (R-Ind.) criticized Tuberville, pushing him to relent in his fight for unborn life. They tried to use parliamentary tactics to skirt the Senate’s rules and advance senior military promotions while also advancing the Biden administration’s abortion agenda.

But this time Sen. Tuberville wasn’t alone. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has his back. With Sen. Tuberville watching from his desk, Sen. Lee made his case in several remarkable speeches.

Sen. Lee began by arguing that while the approach Sen. Tuberville has taken is not the one he chose, “this is his right, and it is a right that I will defend to my last breath for the simple reason that it is his right to do it, and he is right to do it.”

Sen. Lee went on to remind his colleagues of what he called “bedrock principles of our system of government.”

The first was the separation of powers. “The reason we are even here having this discussion is because we have some individuals who serve in the Pentagon, in the Department of Defense, who have lost sight of which is the branch of government in which they serve,” said Sen. Lee. The legislative branch makes laws, not the executive. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin “can’t legislate from the E-ring of the Pentagon,” he added. “No matter how strongly he feels, no matter how compelling his urge to facilitate the performance of abortion using federal funds contrary to public opinion, contrary to federal law, he does not have that power.”

Next, Sen. Lee pointed to the reason the Department of Defense implemented the policy: “to circumvent the plain purpose, intent, effect of 10 U.S.C., section 1093,” the federal law that, in Sen. Lee’s words, “makes clear you cannot use Department of Defense funds or Department of Defense facilities or property for abortion.” Sen. Lee referred to the overwhelming public support for laws like this one that restrict taxpayer funding from being used for abortion. Such a policy could never be enacted through the proper legislative process.

Then Sen. Lee turned to the truth that Sen. Tuberville’s “holds” are not “an inexorable block” and not “damning these people to Senate confirmation hell.” By forcing the Senate to take what he called “the slow path” to confirmation, Sen. Lee credited Tuberville for having “taken the bull by the horns” and “utilized the resources at his disposal, which is what any Division I championship football coach would do.”

Christians who value the dignity of every human life and rightly expect their elected officials to stand firm in defense of this fundamental principle must know who is and isn’t on their side.

Sen. Lee reminded his Republican colleagues that there exist two simple solutions. To President Biden he said, “All you have to do is suspend your godless, lawless abortion travel policy.” To Majority Leader Chuck Schumer he said, “We went 40 consecutive days and nights—kind of Biblical, really, if you think about it—without a single vote in August. We are about to go 10 or 11 more consecutive days and nights without a single vote.” He continued, “You know the rules, Sen. Schumer. You know how to call these people up.”

Sen. Lee went on, “When we talk about military readiness, why on earth are we not aiming our remarks at President Biden or at Secretary Austin? Why on earth are we not directing them at Sen. Schumer? They all have the ability to end this. With Schumer, it would take longer. It would require more of an investment of time on our part, sure. Why are we not directing our arrows at them? Why are they going to Tuberville instead?”

There was much more. I commend the entirety of Sen. Lee’s arguments to you, available in the pages of the Congressional Record or on video courtesy of C-SPAN.

Christians who value the dignity of every human life and rightly expect their elected officials to stand firm in defense of this fundamental principle must know who is and isn’t on their side. Easier said than done, though. These arguments are literally occurring in the middle of the night on a Thursday. That’s not an accident. It’s a cynical ploy to evade scrutiny.

The next thing you can expect is for the same senators trying to undermine Sen. Tuberville to use these debates to justify increasingly radical steps, like voting to change the rules of the Senate. “We tried everything we could,” they will say. It will be a lie. Sen. Lee has told the truth, as he has throughout his career. By standing with Sen. Tuberville and defending the cause of life, Lee has once again reminded us that for those who prioritize the issue of life there are at least two champions in the Senate.

Eric Teetsel

Eric Teetsel is vice president of government relations at The Heritage Foundation.

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