In what is dubbed a significant victory for GOP lawmakers, the annual defense bill will require the pentagon to rescind all military vaccine mandates. According to Breitbart News, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes languages that repeal the coronavirus vaccine mandate for U.S. troops.
The vaccine mandate required military members to get vaccinated or risk being fired. Since Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin handed down the policy in 2021, more than 3400 service men and women have lost their job for refusing the vaccine as of April. The figure has since risen to over 8000, according to Breitbart News.
The GOP victory comes after a group of 13 GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), signed on to letters demanding congress repeal the mandate handed down by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in August 2021.
The letter from the GOP lawmakers demanded that military personnel who lost their jobs due to the mandate be reinstated with back pay. While this demand will not appear in the bill, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) sent out a tweet stating the next steps are to “end all COVID vax mandates (healthcare workers and foreign visitors), and reinstate all members of military wrongfully terminated due to vax.”
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.https://t.co/hRVftUh6yl pic.twitter.com/o8noBxngGe
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) December 7, 2022
Fox News also reported that lawmakers on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees are working on including language within the bill that will allow the Department of Defense to assess the status of service members impacted by the mandate. Another provision in the bill will mandate the pentagon to find ways to compensate military personnel affected by the vaccine mandate.
The push to end the vaccine mandate gained support from democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA). Smith, who had previously supported the vaccine mandate, told Politico he was open to discussing the mandate’s removal.
“I was a very strong supporter of the vaccine mandate when we did it, a very strong supporter of the Covid restrictions put in place by DoD and others,” Smith said. “But at this point in time, does it make sense to have that policy from August 2021? That is a discussion that I am open to and that we’re having.”