Army Green Beret Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) said Thursday to Breibart that Republicans will use their new House majority to push for an end to the Biden administration military COVID vaccine mandate and bring back any military members discharged for failing to get vaccinated.
“You’re going to see a push to end the mandate, probably through the [National Defense Authorization Act] bill, and also there will be a push to restore those that have been discharged,” said Waltz, who will become chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness.
Republicans will also be looking at the religious exemption process; many military members requested religious exemptions but few were approved.
Federal courts have already prevented members of the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps who filed for religious exemptions from being punished for not getting vaccinated.
Waltz said they expect pushback from the Department of Defense, but that it has been shown that the vaccine doesn’t prevent transmission of COVID-19 as it was originally thought and advertised.
“You have to follow the orders, but every leader also should be evaluating your orders and in terms of risk-benefit, and when faced with a recruiting crisis,” he added.
More than 8,000 military members have been discharged in 2022 for refusing to vaccinate, and military recruiting has been way down this year.
It may be that some who would have enlisted do not want to be forced to get the vaccine.
“You can’t replace these folks, and then overlay that with they’re looking at over 20,000 [potential discharges] — particularly in the National Guard and Reserve. All of those things should be weighed in and I hope we can get to some common sense here,” Waltz said.
He also noted that President Joe Biden has called the coronavirus pandemic over, and that the CDC has eliminated guidance distinctions for the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
It is not known whether Biden will support a move away from forced military vaccination, but it seems doubtful.
The Senate is also still controlled by a slim Democrat majority, so if Democrats don’t go for the idea, it won’t get through.