CV NEWS FEED // “We looked at the polling,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-AL told CatholicVote’s Erika Ahern. “Sixty percent of the people in our country are strongly opposed to taxpayer dollars being used to pay for abortions. But the Democrats wouldn’t listen to us. They continue to push it.”
In this exclusive LOOPcast interview, Sen. Tuberville discusses his successful effort to stop taxpayer-funded abortions in the military, as well as stories from his tenure as the SEC championship-winning coach of the Auburn Tigers, and why he continues to fight for innocent life.
As the senator proudly stated, “I believe in God. I believe in the sanctity of life… I believe in giving everybody the opportunity to live that life. And right now, we have a whole lot of people that want to not give life to a lot of young people through abortion.”
Erika Ahern: Welcome to this special edition of LOOPcast, where we cover all things faith, culture and politics from a Catholic perspective. Joining me today is Senator Tommy Tuberville, who represents the great state of Alabama in the U.S. Congress. Thank you so much for being with us today, Senator.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville: Thank you.
Erika: In February, you halted all nominees to positions in the Department of Defense (DOD) until the agency reverses course on a new spate of policies that would put taxpayer dollars towards abortions for military personnel.
But first, I want to talk about how you recently introduced a resolution that would block the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from providing taxpayer-funded abortions to retired service members.
It seems like a lot coming from all different angles at our military. Your bill on the VA was unfortunately shot down by Democrats in the Senate, but it’s really only one prong of what you’re using to defend our military and veterans and taxpayers from a radical pro-abortion agenda.
So can you talk to us a little bit about some of the other moves you’re making in this effort?
Sen. Tuberville: You’re seeing a trend here from the White House. Basically, the White House is starting to make their own laws and pushing them on the American people.
And that’s what I’ve really been involved in – in this VA resolution and also the DOD holds to let the taxpayers of the country know that they’re not responsible to pay for abortions. The Hyde Amendment says that.
And the [president] should not be legislating from the White House. Let us do our job. If you want a bill passed, let us know what you want to be brought to the floor. Let’s discuss it. Let’s send it through committee and let’s vote for it like we’re supposed to in a democracy.
Again, I’m fighting the White House every day on both the VA resolution and the DOD holds, trying to let the American people know that somebody is up here fighting for them.
Erika: What legal basis are the VA and the Department of Defense trying to wrest rules like this on?
Sen. Tuberville: I’ll give a little background on VA for just a moment.
30 years ago, the Democrats brought a bill up into the Senate and passed it. Joe Biden even voted for it. It was unanimous that there will not be abortions in the VA. And so we’ve had no problem with that. There’s been no discussion about it.
All this really resulted from the Dobbs decision of Roe v. Wade sending abortion back to the states last summer. And since then, the White House and this administration has just said, “Listen, let’s just circumvent the rule as much as we can. Anything that we can do federally will do it.”
They started working through the VA, saying, “We’re going to do abortions in the VA.”
I spoke up very quickly on that, saying, “You can’t do it. You can’t use taxpayer dollars to do that.”
We’ve never done abortions in the VA. And the reason for that is because we’re not equipped to do it in VAs, and that there’s a lot of nurses and doctors that work in the VAs that do not believe in abortion. You’re pretty much forcing them to do something that they don’t want to do.
We spoke out against it. We even looked at the polling. 60% of the people in our country are strongly opposed to taxpayer dollars being used to pay for abortions. But the Democrats wouldn’t listen to us. They continue to push it.
We bought a resolution (CRA) up to the floor, about a week or so ago. And unfortunately, it was voted down. All the Democrats voted against this resolution, except for Joe Manchin, who was the only Democrat [voting in favor].
But we had a couple of Republicans that voted for keeping abortions in the VA.
We were a couple of votes short, but we’re going to still continue to talk about it and remind the American people that they’re not supposed to [be forced to] pay for this. Taxpayer money is used for these abortions in the VA, and we’re going to keep fighting [it].
Erika: Let’s talk a little bit about this other tactic that you’ve been using: freezing the nominations for people to move up in the military.
Could you just talk a little bit about your role in the Senate that allows you to do something like freeze nominations for the Department of Defense, and how you see that tactic playing out in this effort, first in terms of abortion in the military, and second in terms of restoring some semblance of Constitutional order.
Sen. Tuberville: That’s a good question.
Let’s first talk about the power of the Senate. I’ve been here going on three years and we’ve been in the minority. The Republicans have been in the minority of the Senate.
We have no control of the Senate floor. We have very little control of hearings. But the one thing we do have control of is that we can put a hold on any nomination that [the Democrats] want to bring to the Senate floor.
A hold means you can object to it, and that they have to go through regular order for that nomination, and have to go through the hearings – whether it’s the Armed Services or the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for that nomination. And then it has to go to the floor. Then it has to be singly voted on.
Now let’s go to the DOD and their new abortion policy.
For years, they’ve had, in the DOD, an abortion policy of having abortions only through incest, rape, or health of the mom. We’ve had very few abortions in the military in the last few decades. There’s been a few dozen each year for those reasons alone.
Now, after Dobbs last summer, the DOD, as I said earlier about the VA resolution, was looking for any way to circumvent the law.
And so they said, “Hey, we’re going to change the policy and we’re going to let military members have an abortion at any time. Not for just three reasons, but at any time. And we’re going to pay for that abortion. We’re going to fly them to whatever state that they want to go to to have that abortion. Plus, we’re going to allow their dependents, their kids, to have abortions.
They changed it without any action through the Senate orthrough any hearing. They just overnight said that we’re going to do it.
What happened is we started hearing they were going to do this new policy. I kept asking for a briefing. Finally, after four or five months, we got a briefing – somewhere around Thanksgiving of last year.
And as they gave us that brief briefing, we said, “You can’t do that. That’s against the law. If you want to change this law, run it through the Senate and then see if it will pass. Do it through regular order.”
They weren’t going to do that. So December 8 of last year, I wrote a letter to [Defense] Secretary [Lloyd] Austin, and I said, “If you do this, I’m going to put a hold on every nomination of every general and every admiral and [so on].”
You would normally do generals and admirals in groups at a time, maybe 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, sometimes even upwards of hundreds. We just kind of run them through committee and they’re passed.
I said, “If we’re going to do this [abortion policy], we’re going to do nominations in normal order.
You’re going to go through committee one at a time, and they don’t want to do that. And so they went ahead.
After that, I sent a letter to Secretary Austin saying I was going to put a hold on them. February 8, they ran this new policy up the flagpole and said, “This is our new policy.”
Immediately we put a hold on all their nominations and now we’re up to 200 admirals and generals – and they’re panicking about this.
But they can either run them one at a time through the regular order, which would take a lot of time.
Or, they can do away with this policy that was illegally done. It didn’t go through the House or the Senate. You know, they made their own law up. As I said earlier, they’re legislating from the White House, and they can do away with this law and I’ll do away with the holds.
We’re at a stalemate.
Erika: Have you spoken to [Secretary] Lloyd Austin about the nominations and about the situation?
Sen. Tuberville: I did about a month ago. Then I did [again] at a committee hearing, I guess about three weeks ago, where he had his posture hearing in front of the Armed Services Committee.
I have not heard anything from anybody else. And now, all the Democrats are complaining to all the four star generals that, you know, I’m hurting readiness and all that.
It’s not affecting our military whatsoever.
If I thought it put anybody in harm’s way, I wouldn’t be doing this because we do need a military. But because a lot of these things that this [Biden] administration is doing, not just in this abortion situation, but also the vaccine mandates, and through a lot of their recruiting efforts that I don’t believe in, our recruiting is really suffering. In the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, we’re not going to meet any of our goals. What they’re doing is actually hurting our country, not helping our country.
We’re going to sit on these holds and see what happens. Hopefully we can come to the table and work something out. But I have had very little contact from the Department of Defense, the White House, or anybody that’s really been involved in this.
Erika: And this really seems to be almost an illness that’s affecting all the branches of our military.
I’ve been covering the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs. And then we also saw the Department of Homeland Security being even more aggressive to promote abortion in the Coast Guard.
And do you see this sort of the administration’s abortion obsession in every branch of the military as being connected with other known issues?
You mentioned recruitment, but we’ve also seen videos coming out of the U.S. naval bases, particularly in Bahrain, of sort of the trans ideology permeating our navy. We assume that that also extends to all the branches.
Sen. Tuberville: This has really gotten out of hand.
Erika: And this is something that I know a lot of Catholics struggle with and probably a lot of Christian Americans struggle with. On the one hand, we have a very robust tradition of Catholics and Christians serving in our military. I have six children, God be praised. And as a parent I’m struggling to encourage my children to go into the service of their country.
What would you say to young men and women right now who are looking at the military, maybe hearing from recruiters and just parents who are questioning: “Is this a military in which I want to serve? Is this a military to which I can entrust my son or daughter?”
How would you talk to parents right now who are maybe having these concerns about offering their own children to the service of America?
Sen. Tuberville: I agree with it. You know what I’ve done all my life has been in the coaching realm in college [football]. I was more of a recruiter, you know, for college sports and education than I was really a football coach.
I understand what you need to do and what you don’t need to do in terms of recruiting young people. Pretty much, the military’s recruiting the same age of young men and women that I recruited over the years: 18, 19 year old young people.
I think the biggest thing is you tell them the truth. You give them an opportunity to make themselves better. You give them an opportunity to make themselves stronger in terms of education, stronger as a person and to have a better life. Not to get involved in politics.
It’s just sad. We’ve got to the point where we’re doing all kinds of advertisements now.
And you’ve seen it. Transgender advertisements to try to get people to either buy things or even join the military. I saw a Navy ad yesterday about a transgender person.
And listen, this is a free country. We have the First Amendment. You do what you want, legally. You can speak out because of free speech. You can be what you want to be. I don’t care. I’ve dealt with a lot of different people.
But don’t push it on other people. Give other people an opportunity to live their life the way they want to live it, but also be in the realm of being fair.
It’s sad we’ve gotten to this point where our country is so divided that we push different facts and factors. If you join the military, you join for this reason, and this reason alone: to protect the security of the United States of America and our allies. And that is your number one goal. And if you’re in there for any other reason, you’re probably doing it for the wrong reason.
We’ve had a great military over the years. And now, if our military wants to get into politics it is going to really affect it. And you’re seeing that as we speak.
Erika: I’m glad you brought up your experience as a coach. I just have to say, for my listeners, you’re the only coach in Auburn football history to beat in-state rival [the University of] Alabama six consecutive times. So, just a little shoutout to that fine backstory there.
I did want to ask you a fun question.
You talk about recruiting, but how did life as a coach prepare you for the U.S. Senate? Do you see any life lessons that you bring to bear in your negotiations there?
Sen. Tuberville: The thing about coaching, in recruiting, is the same as what you do in the Senate. It’s about communication. It’s about being able to work with other people. It’s about being able to convince other people of an idea that you might have. You’ve got to be able to communicate at anything that you do in life.
You’ve got to be able to sell yourself first. Because, if you can’t sell yourself and people don’t believe in you as a person, they’re not going to believe in any of your ideas.
Since I’ve been [in the Senate for] two years, I’ve been selling myself as just a person who loves this country, who wants to help this country.
The thing about college sports and or any other sports that you play, you have to remember it is a game. It’s a game that you play to have fun.
This is a different type of game here in the Senate. This is a game about life or death. This is about helping people, protecting people, giving people an opportunity to be better and make a better life for themselves. But it’s also [about] giving them the opportunity to live in a country that has been safe, as we tackle national security for over 200 and, what, 45, 46, 47 years?
We’re coming up on our 250th birthday here in the very near future. And what a great country we have lived in.
Erika: As a coach, you mentioned being able to sell yourself and you know, put your ideas out there. And it seems to me that you have a very strong sense of who you are, a very strong sense of your values and a conviction. And you are pro-life.
Tell us a little bit about your pro-life convictions and sort of the primary drivers behind your efforts. Obviously, your love of the Constitution, but how did you end up pro-life, Senator?
Sen. Tuberville: I grew up in a Christian family, a mom and dad, brother and sister. I’ve been a big reader of the Bible all my life.
You have to believe in something. You can’t just believe that we’re just here, just to be here. You have to believe in something that’s strong, that gives you a sense of reality, that gives you a sense of not just the life that we’re having now, but the life after death.
And so I believe in God. I believe in the sanctity of life. As you said, I’m pro-life.
I believe in giving everybody the opportunity to live that life. And right now, we have a whole lot of people that want to not give life to a lot of young people through abortion. Through many thousands of abortions.
There’s a there’s a lot of talk about do we need rape, incest and health of the mother [exceptions].
I think there’s some good discussion over that, through the Bible. But killing young people or premature babies before they have an opportunity of life, to me it’s hard for me to fathom.
And we’ve done millions and millions of abortions over the years. We’ve taken a life away from a lot of people, and now we’re even talking about abortion after birth.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me of where this is coming from. Most countries around the world do not believe in abortion. There’s probably just a handful that you could say, you know, you can go to this country and have an abortion. Most do not believe or have abortion in their country.
It’s just amazing how we’ve gotten from no abortion to abortion on demand at any time.
To me, that’s not in my beliefs, and I think it’s in a lot of people’s wheelhouse in this country that they don’t believe the same as I do.
Erika: Thank you so much for being the tip of the spear in fighting this in our Senate. We’ll continue to follow your work very carefully. Thank you for all that you’ve done and thank you for joining us today.
Sen. Tuberville: Thank you very much.