Senate Republicans Demand Action to End Military Coronavirus Vaccine Mandate

NORTH MIAMI, FLORIDA - MARCH 09: U.S. Army soldiers from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, prepare Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate people at the Miami Dade College North Campus on March 09, 2021 in North Miami, Florida. The soldiers deployed to assist the Federal Emergency Management …
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Senate Republicans, including Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rick Scott (R-FL), are demanding a vote to end the military’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, sending a letter to Republican leaders Wednesday.

The letter, addressed to Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Thune (R-SD), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Roy Blunt (R-MO), asks that the Senate refrain from going forward with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023 until action is taken to halt the military vaccine mandate.  

It reads in part:

We oppose invoking closure on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, unless the Senate votes on a single amendment to (1) prohibit the involuntary separation of a member of the Armed Forces based solely on a service member’s COVID-19 vaccination status and to (2) reinstate those who may have already been separated with back pay. We respectfully request that the Senate Republican leadership whips the question. 

“The Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccine mandate has ruined the livelihoods of men and women who have honorably served our country,” they continued, noting that as of April 2022, “approximately 3,400 troop shape been discharged from the military for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.”

“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,” they continued:

The United States 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 on this important issue that adversely affects our service members and our national security.

The letter was signed by Sens. Scott and Paul, along with Mike Lee (R-UT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mike Braun (R-IN), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Steve Daines (R-MT), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and Josh Hawley (R-MO). 

Despite President Biden declaring the pandemic “over” in September, the Pentagon said it was sticking to the vaccine mandate. 

In September, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) noted that “over 100,000 active servicemembers—who taxpayers paid to train—face discharge during the worst recruiting year in our military’s history.”

Notably, former President Trump said during his 2024 presidential announcement speech that he will “abolish every Biden COVID mandate and rehire every patriot who was fired from our military with an apology and full back pay.”

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