On Tuesday, conservatives celebrated a massive win as a new defense bill that now may remove the COVID vaccine mandate for U.S. troops. The bill must go into effect no more than 30 days after passing.
Conservatives were able to attach a requirement to the bill that states: “The Secretary of Defense shall rescind the mandate that members of the Armed Forces be vaccinated against COVID-19.”
More than 8,000 troops were discharged when the White House military vaccine mandate for full vaccination went into effect. The order threatened at least 60,000 American families as service members contemplated whether or not to comply. Thousands of American troops filed for religious exemptions from the vaccine and were denied, which prompted a warning from the Pentagon Inspector General.
President Joe Biden declared opposition to repealing the mandate. However, Democrats and Republicans have been working to devise a solution for months.
One component of the bill Republicans feel it missed is the reinstatement of discharged troops who did not comply with the mandate.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was a key House member who opposed the mandate. He says the military service members who did not receive the vaccine under the order were wrongfully terminated and must be reinstated.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) celebrated the step to victory on Twitter, saying the freedom caucus had been fighting the mandate for 2 years.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and 10 of her Senate colleagues published a joint statement celebrating the win. The statement said the U.S. military almost beat its record low for the number of new service members due to the mandate. To protect troops and the nation from a weakened military, the leaders are satisfied with congressional efforts to protect troops from discharge in the name of a vaccine.
We’re putting an end to Joe Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. https://t.co/R4YtM13YVm
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) December 7, 2022
Troops who have fought the mandate are grateful for the bill but hope for further action. Air Force Master Sergeant Nick Kupper said he was relieved for the 70,000 careers saved by the bill but criticized the lack of reparations for the 8,000 service members already discharged due to the mandate.