Home Notebook: Tim Kaine talks Freedom to Vote Act, Tuberville/DoD/abortion policy
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Notebook: Tim Kaine talks Freedom to Vote Act, Tuberville/DoD/abortion policy

Chris Graham

Kaine signs on to bill protecting voting rights

tim kaine
(© George Sheldon – Shutterstock)

Jan. 6 was “an effort to disenfranchise 80 million people who voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” U.S. Sen Tim Kaine told reporters on a conference call on Wednesday.

The “only real response” to the effort led by former president Donald Trump that involved an angry mob that he whipped up and then the 147 Republicans who, in the hours after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, voted to decertify the 2020 presidential election results, is “really to protect people’s rights to vote, so they can’t be disenfranchised. And that’s what the Freedom to Vote bill would do,” Kaine said.

Kaine and Mark Warner joined 49 other Senate Democrats in introducing the Freedom to Vote bill, which at the moment, not surprisingly at all, has no Republican support.

No Republican support means Republicans can filibuster the bill into death by lack of a floor vote, but Democrats aren’t giving up hope on that.

“Our colleague, Raphael Warnock, reminded us that when John Lewis walked across the Selma bridge, he didn’t think he was gonna get through the other side, and everybody was just going to say, you’re right, it’ll be civil rights for all. He knew he had to keep walking, and so that’s what we’re gonna do. We’re introducing the bill, and we’re going to keep pushing until we get there,” Kaine said.

Kaine on Tuberville: ‘He would lose on the floor’

Tommy Tuberville, former college football coach, current booster of having White nationalists in the military, still isn’t giving in on his dumb fight to get the Department of Defense to reverse a decades-old federal government policy to pay for travel-related expenses related to abortions.

Kaine laid out for reporters what the Alabama Republican is really doing here.

“Right now, if I’m a man in the military, and I want to get medical care, and the medical care is not available to me where I am positioned, stationed or deployed, I am eligible to get time off, and the military will pay travel costs so I can get that medical care. What the department said in the aftermath of Dobbs is that a whole lot of women are now in places where if they decide that they want to terminate a pregnancy in accordance with the laws of a jurisdiction, they should also be able to say, Hey, I can’t get that medical care here and in a particular state or particular country. The Pentagon says we will not pay for the abortion, we don’t do that, ut we will give you leave and pay for your travel costs,” Kaine said.

“This is actually very similar to what we’ve done since the Reagan administration. Peace Corps volunteers, if they choose to have an abortion, the Peace Corps pays for their travel and gives them time off. If federal prisoners get pregnant and choose to have an abortion, while the federal government doesn’t pay for the abortion, the Bureau of Prisons does pay for travel.

“So at a hearing this morning, I raised the question with my colleagues. Do you really want to treat women servicemembers worse than Peace Corps volunteers and federal prisoners?” Kaine said.

Kaine expects the Senate to eventually take up a vote on Tuberville’s position on the DoD policy, which he is using as his excuse for holding up military appointments.

“The Senate will not, in all likelihood, embrace a reversal of this DoD policy, which is consistent with other federal agencies,” Kaine said. “That will be a matter we’ll have to conference together. I can’t get too far down the road and say that conference is going to be unsuccessful, and we won’t get a defense bill. I think we’ll get a defense bill. We’ve got to get the Senate version done first, and then we get into conference, we figure it out. But we’ve done defense bills every year, you know, for the most for the last 62. I don’t think we’re going to stumble over this one.”

Kaine noted that Tuberville has already forced a committee vote on his position, which came up short.

“He had a vote in committee, and he lost. I’m hoping that maybe if there’s a vote on this on the floor as part of the Defense authorizing act, debate that win or lose, he’ll then stop blockading these nominations,” Kaine said.

“I think he would lose the vote on the floor. I don’t think he’s going to convince a majority of his colleagues that you should not allow travel to military women to make their own healthcare, legal healthcare choices. When you would pay for such travel for federal prisoners and Peace Corps volunteers, why would you treat a woman servicemember worse than you would treat others who are situated somewhat similarly?” Kaine said. “So my hope is, maybe we will have a floor vote on that, and then, you know, however, that floor vote comes out, I hope he would say, OK, I got my vote. If I lost, at least I had the chance. And if I lost, you know, then what I had to do is try to be more persuasive, rather than to punish people who had nothing to do with the policy I’m complaining about.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].