A pair of congressional Democrats want the Government Accountability Office to determine how much damage was done by the 10-month blockade of military promotions stemming from Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s protest over the Defense Department’s abortion access policy.
In a letter to the office sent Friday, Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Robert Garcia, D-Calif., said the investigation is needed so lawmakers can prepare for the “damaging ripple effect on the careers of service members at all levels” that resulted from the holds.
“While Senator Tuberville’s holds directly affected hundreds of senior military officials, junior officers indirectly lost the opportunity to rise in rank and gain experience,” the pair wrote. “Such career stagnation radiates massive effects on factors such as service member retention, pay, pension, and future opportunities.”
The promotion and confirmations of more than 430 senior military officers were held up for months last year by Tuberville, an Alabama Republican who took issue with the Defense Department’s decision to award leave time and travel stipends to troops forced to cross state lines to access abortion services.
His protest, which ran from March to December, caused delays in filling dozens of Defense Department leadership posts, including at one point creating confirmation vacancies in the top uniformed posts for the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.
Tuberville dropped his holds in December amid pressure from Senate Republicans who lamented the move was hurting military operations and readiness.
In their letter, Raskin and Garcia noted the holds meant delaying in military staffing for the Ukraine Security Assistance Group, U.S. Marine forces in Japan, and a host of “critical components of our national security policy.”
The pair said they expect a series of short- and long-term detrimental effects for the military, to include family hardships, reduced pay and secondary effects related to future military promotions.
GAO officials have not yet said whether they will take up the request. Tuberville has maintained that his protest highlighted problems with the abortion access policy and produced positive results, even if he could not force the rules to be rescinded.
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