GOP Senators Oppose Advancing NDAA Unless Military Vaccine Mandate Canned
WASHINGTON — A group of U.S. senators led by Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said they will oppose passage of this year’s defense spending authorization unless the chamber votes to repeal the current COVID-19 vaccine mandate for military personnel.
In a letter to Republican leaders in the chamber, the dissident group says it will oppose invoking cloture on the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2023 fiscal year unless the Senate votes on a single amendment that would prohibit the involuntary discharge of members of the military who declined to be vaccinated.
The group, which also includes Sens. Rick Scott, R-Fla., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Mike Braun, R-Ind., Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., also wants service members who have already been discharged due to their vaccination status to be reinstated with back pay.
“The Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccine mandate has ruined the livelihoods of men and women who have honorably served our country,” the senators wrote.
“As of April 2022, approximately 3,400 troops have been discharged from the military for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” they continued. “While the Department of Defense certainly must make decisions that will bolster military readiness, the effects of the mandate are antithetical to readiness of our force, and the policy must be revoked.”
The letter was sent to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Republican Whip John Thune, R-S.D., Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Asked about the letter, which was first made public during her daily press briefing, White House Spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said she could not comment on the matter, but directed reporters to the Defense Department, which, she said, could speak to its COVID vaccine policies.
A spokesman for the Defense Department said it does not comment on pending legislation.
In the meantime, the group of 13 senators maintain the U.S. “simply cannot afford to discharge our brave men and women in uniform and lose the investments we have made into each and every one of them due to an inept bureaucratic policy.
“We respectfully request that the Senate vote to remedy a policy that adversely affects our service members and our national security,” they concluded.