GOP scores win with provision to end military’s COVID vaccine mandate in NDAA bill

Republicans have not yet formally gained control of the House but they have already scored a major victory for both themselves and the American people.

In the imminent “must-pass” military funding bill that Congress will soon vote on, a provision was included to end enforcement of the vaccine mandate for military service members, Breitbart reported.

The bill has not yet been voted on and it must be signed into law by President Joe Biden, but it seems unlikely that he will veto that vital funding measure over the provision to end the military’s vaccine mandate that was worked out in bipartisan fashion in both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

Military vaccine mandate to be ended

According to Breitbart, a released draft of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act includes the provision that reads: “Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall rescind the mandate that members of the Armed Forces be vaccinated against COVID-19.”

The outlet noted that the vaccine requirement has already resulted in at least 8,000 service members being kicked out of the nation’s armed forces and threatened the continued careers of an additional estimated 60,000 more who did not want to receive the COVID-19 shot.

Unfortunately, while an end to the mandate is undeniably a good thing, the provision does not go far enough to satisfy some as it does not address reinstatement for those who had already been kicked out or prohibit retaliation against those who have sought exemptions or otherwise refused to abide by the mandate.

However, a pair of House Republicans made it clear that those goals would be pursued by the incoming GOP majority in the next Congress.

“Next steps” for the next Congress

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) tweeted, “The military COVID vaccine mandate will end! Page 407 & 408 of NDAA text just released. Next steps: end all COVID vax mandates (healthcare workers and foreign visitors), and reinstate all members of military wrongfully terminated due to vax.”

Similarly, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) said in a tweet, “The @freedomcaucus has been fighting to #EndVaxMandates for 2 years — this is a giant step, at least within the military. The #NDAA remains highly flawed — and we need reinstatement, cleared records, & anti-retaliation language … but HOPEFULLY this step stays in the bill.”

GOP senators cheer inclusion of provision to end military vaccine mandate

Also weighing in on the matter was a group of Republican senators led by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who was joined in a joint statement by Sens. Mike Braun (IN), Mike Crapo (ID), Steve Daines (MT), Joni Ernst (IA), Deb Fischer (NE), John Hoeven (ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS), Roger Marshall (KS), Jim Risch (ID), and Tommy Tuberville (AL).

“In the United States, the number of new servicemembers joining the military is reaching a near record low,” the GOP senators noted. “The United States needs a strong military to protect our country against the growing threats facing our nation.”

“We are pleased that the final conferenced bill includes language mirroring our amendments’ efforts to protect troops from being fired due to Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate without fair appeal and to the harm of service readiness,” they added.

The statement from Blackburn also noted that she and others had introduced measures that would allow National Guard and Reserve members to continue to receive pay and benefits while vaccine mandate exemption requests were pending as well as to prohibit the firing of any military service member for refusing the vaccine unless or until their respective branch of the armed forces had achieved its required personnel strength as dictated by the NDAA.