U.S. Senate Passes Manchin bill to restore back pay for officers whose promotions were stalled over Pentagon abortion policy

MORGANTOWN – The U.S. Senate this week passed a bill cosponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin to restore back pay to military officers whose promotions were delayed by a GOP senator opposed to Pentagon abortion policy.

The Senate unanimously passed the bipartisan Military Personnel Confirmation Restoration Act of 2023 on Thursday. It provides back pay and retroactive promotion dates and other administrative fixes. Manchin announced the passage on Friday.

Manchin joined with Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., to introduce the bill on Thursday. He announced the bill last week.

It now will go to the House, which has an identical bill sponsored by Reps. Don Bacon, R-Neb., and Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz. The Senate hopes the House will prioritize passage early in 2024 and send it to the president.

This bill followed an announcement by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., that he was releasing his hold on promotions initiated in February. The hold was a move to pressure the Pentagon to end its abortion-leave policy giving service members access to abortions by allowing them to be reimbursed for travel to abortion clinics.

Tuberville had held up more than 400 promotion nominees. On Tuesday he announced his agreement with two other GOP senators to release the hold for three-star officers and below, while retaining it for four-star officers – about 11 people.

Tuberville signed onto this bill, as did Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.

Manchin said after it passed, “These men and women are true American heroes and the least we can do in Congress is restore the benefits they have earned and deserve. I encourage my colleagues in the House to pass this important legislation as quickly as possible to compensate our troops and reprioritize national security.”

Rounds said, “When our men and women in uniform serve our country, they don’t know whether the people they are serving with are Republicans, Democrats or Independents. I disagree with the Department of Defense’s policy of paying the travel expenses for service members and their dependents seeking abortions. I also support a member of the Senate’s right to hold any nomination; however, our men and women in uniform should not be caught in the middle of partisan politics. I urge the House to move quickly on this legislation to do the right thing for our service members.”