Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threw his support behind Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) blockade on 300-plus military promotions before criticizing the Department of Defense for its abortion policy on Saturday.
“What the Defense Department is doing is outside the law. They are breaking, violating the law by funding abortion tourism with tax dollars,” said the GOP presidential candidate at an Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition event.
“And so when agencies do that, Congress has to stand up and push back against it.”
Tuberville has faced criticism from secretaries of the Air Force, Army and Navy for his hold on promotions in protest of a Pentagon policy that reimburses service members who travel to get an abortion in another state.
Adm. Lisa Franchetti, President Joe Biden’s nominee to be the top officer in the Navy, said it would “take years to recover” from the promotion delays caused by the blockade.
DeSantis, on Saturday, pointed to a “limited” amount of money in the defense budget before taking aim at Biden over the policy.
“We’re running low on ammunition, our recruiting is in the absolute gutter now and you’re funding abortion tourism? Is that really something that is helping to protect this country?” the Florida governor said.
“So we need to fight back against it. I can tell you, when I’m president, on Day One, that policy goes into the trash can where it belongs.
DeSantis reiterated his support of the Tuberville blockade while fellow Republican candidate and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, at the same event, again declared that service members shouldn’t be used as “political pawns,” the Des Moines Register reported.
Haley, in a CNN interview last week, said the Pentagon “started this” and suggested Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) could hold a vote on each military member.
The move, as CNN’s Jake Tapper noted, would be a break from the Senate’s typical process of voting unanimously on a group of people to receive military promotions.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby went to bat for the policy in July as he argued that service members go where they’re told to go, The Hill reported.
“What happens if you get assigned to a state like Alabama which has a pretty restrictive abortion law in place? And you’re concerned about your reproductive care? What do you do? Do you say no and you get out?” he asked.
He continued: “Well, some people may decide to do that, and what does that mean? That means we lose talent, important talent. It can have an extremely, extremely significant impact on our recruiting and our retention. It’s just the right darn thing to do for people who raise their hand and agree to serve in the military.”