Seven former defense officials sent a letter to the Senate on Thursday, calling for an end to Sen. Tommy Tuberville's (pictured, 2022) procedural blockage on military and civilian nominations. File Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo
May 4 (UPI) -- Seven former defense officials sent a letter to Senate leaders on Thursday, urging lawmakers to end one GOP senator's blockage of 184 nominations.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the former secretaries of Defense warned that Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville's actions were "harming military readiness and risks damaging U.S. national security."
The signatories were William Perry, William Cohen, Robert Gates, Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel, Mark Esper, and James Mattis.
"Some are unable to take important command positions, such as leading the 5th Fleet in Bahrain and the 7th Fleet in the Pacific, which are critical to checking Iranian and Chinese aggression," the former Pentagon chiefs said. "Leaving these and many other senior positions in doubt at a time of enormous geopolitical uncertainty sends the wrong message to our adversaries and could weaken our deterrence."
Tuberville, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has continued to stand in the way of confirming both civilian Defense Department nominees and military officials as long as the department provides flexibility and travel expenses for non-covered reproductive healthcare.
In February, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin signed the memorandum Ensuring Access to Reproductive Health Care, which allows troops who are pregnant to take leave to pursue assisted reproductive technology or a non-covered abortion.
"So almost 80,000 of our women are stationed in places where they don't have access to non-covered reproductive health care," Austin said.
In Thursday's letter, the former Defense heads also noted the real-world impact of Tuberville's blockade.
"Most cannot move and resettle their families; their children cannot enroll at their next schools on time; and spouses cannot start new jobs at the next duty station," the letter read.