House Democrats are going to defy President Biden by joining House Republicans to jettison the requirement for military service members to get the COVID vaccine, according to a new report.
The National Defense Authorization Act, the annual defense policy bill, will repeal the COVID vaccine mandate for members of the military; it will be voted on by the House on Friday.
While the bill would remove the vaccine mandate for U.S. troops, it would not reinstate service members who were discharged or had their benefits slashed for refusing to be immunized against COVID.
Part of the language in the new NDAA will order the Pentagon to find a means of compensating service members punished for refusing to be vaccinated.
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On Monday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby asserted that President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin opposed repealing the Defense Department’s vaccine mandate.
“Secretary Austin’s been very clear that he opposes the repeal of the vaccine mandate, and the president actually concurs with the secretary of defense,” Kirby stated, adding that President Biden “continues to believe that all Americans, including those in the armed forces, should be vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19. … Vaccines are saving lives including our men and women in uniform.”
On Sunday, appearing on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said that repealing the vaccine would be part of the NDAA, declaring, “Otherwise, the bill will not move. This is the first sign of having divided government.”
Last week, GOP legislators sent a letter to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in which they inveighed against the vaccine mandate and opposed invoking cloture on the NDSAA unless an amendment were voted on to prohibit the expulsion of a service member if they did not receive the COVID vaccine and reinstate those expelled with back pay.
They noted roughly 3,400 service members had been discharged from the military for refusing the COVID vaccine.
“While the Department of Defense certainly must make decisions that will bolster military readiness, the effects of the mandate are antithetical to the readiness of our force, and the policy must be revoked,” they wrote. “The United States simply cannot afford to discharge our brave men and women in uniform and lose the investments we have made in each and every one of them due to an inept bureaucratic policy.”