House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Tuesday night that the Biden administration’s COVID vaccine mandate for the U.S. military will come to an end.
The statement from McCarthy comes as House Democrats are reportedly set to defy President Joe Biden by joining Republicans to jettison the requirement for military service members to get the vaccine.
“The end of President Biden’s military COVID vaccine mandate is a victory for our military and for common sense,” McCarthy said in a statement. “Last week, I told the president directly: it’s time to end the COVID vaccine mandate and rehire our service members.”
The House is expected to vote to repeal the mandate on Friday through the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense policy bill.
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“While I applaud the end of this onerous mandate — the Biden administration must go further,” McCarthy continued. “Unfortunately, the mandate has already had negative consequences for our military: The Army and Navy missed their 2022 recruitment goals by thousands of service members. And, at the direction of the Biden administration, the Defense Department discharged 3,300 Marines, 1,800 soldiers, 1,800 sailors, and 900 airmen simply based on their personal decision to not take the COVID vaccine.”
McCarthy said that the decisions from the Biden administration have made the U.S. Armed Forces weaker and that the administration must now take steps to correct the wrong.
“These heroes deserve justice now that the mandate is no more. The Biden administration must correct service records and not stand in the way of re- enlisting any service member discharged simply for not taking the COVID vaccine,” McCarthy said. “Make no mistake: this is a win for our military. But in 28 days the real work begins — the new House Republican majority will work to finally hold the Biden administration accountable and assist the men and women in uniform who were unfairly targeted by this Administration.”
🚨 BREAKING 🚨 The COVID vax mandate on our military is ending.
Last week I told Biden directly: it’s time to end your COVID vaccine mandate on our military & rehire our service members. The end of the mandate is a victory for our military & for common sense.
My full statement: pic.twitter.com/NedBokdwWm
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) December 7, 2022
While the proposed National Defense Authorization Act 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.
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 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.”
Hank Berrien contributed to this report.