Here’s Just How Stupid Tommy Tuberville’s Military Blockade Really Was

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A new report from the Department of Defense reveals the number of times military members were reimbursed for costs of traveling out of state for reproductive health care—and in doing so, exposes just how ridiculous Senator Tommy Tuberville’s protest of that policy was.

Tuberville single-handedly held up more than 400 military promotions last year to protest the Defense Department policy of reimbursing service members who had to travel for an abortion or other form of reproductive care. Despite repeated warnings from department leadership that he was hurting military readiness, the Alabama Republican claimed he wanted to “stand up for the taxpayers of this country” against what he considered a “bad policy.”

But deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh revealed Tuesday that the policy wasn’t such a burden on taxpayers after all.

Between June and December 2023, “the policy was used 12 times to access noncovered reproductive health care services,” Singh told a press briefing. Those services include abortion, as well as assisted reproductive procedures such as egg retrieval and in vitro fertilization.

“The number 12 accounts for each instance of an individual using the policy for a round-trip event,” Singh explained.

The total cost for travel and transportation in those 12 instances was $44,791.20, Singh said.

In comparison, the Defense Department’s total budget for 2023 was $816.7 billion. And the amount has gone up for this year.

Tuberville held up hundreds of military promotions for most of 2023, throwing the entire U.S. military into disarray. He finally relented in December, after succeeding only in making everyone angry with him. Military leaders called him out by name, accusing him of “aiding and abetting Communist and other autocratic regimes,” while fellow Republicans criticized him, with one calling him “dumb” on the Senate floor.

Through it all, the Defense Department refused to budge on its policy. Dropping that policy “would be an egregious violation of the covenant that we make, the military makes, with the people that sign up and volunteer,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in October.

“When they volunteer for that duty, they have every right to expect that they’re going to get the health care they need.”