The Pentagon said Tuesday it is not pursuing back pay for service members who were discharged from the military for not complying with the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for the military.
“Right now, we are not currently pursuing back-pay to service members who were dismissed for refusing to take the COVID vaccination,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said during a press briefing.
Ryder also claimed that the mandate was “lawful” — despite unanswered questions over whether Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ever sought and received a presidential waiver to mandate a vaccine that was approved by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization, as the law requires.
Austin had promised to seek such a waiver before issuing the mandate in August 2021, but the DOD has not clarified whether this happened or not, as Breitbart News has previously reported. Instead, a senior defense official at the time insisted the EUA-only vaccine and the FDA vaccine were “interchangeable.”
House Republicans will reportedly investigate the vaccine mandate, which they say has contributed to a military recruitment crisis.
House Republicans are also seeking to reinstate the more than 8,400 who were kicked out, with back pay, and several have introduced legislation recently that would do that.
Reinstatement and back pay would be follow-on efforts after GOP lawmakers last year forced the Biden administration to rescind the vaccine mandate via annual defense policy legislation known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Nearly three dozen House Republicans led by Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) introduced legislation last week that would reinstate troops at their same rank and pay prior to discharge. Mast said in a statement:
“We are facing multiple national security threats — now is not the time to play politics with servicemembers who are committed to serving the United States. While repealing the unconstitutional COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the military was a step in the right direction, we should finish what we started and give every servicemember discharged for exercising his or her right to medical freedom an opportunity to return to the military.”
Signatories of the legislation included: GOP Reps. Jeff Duncan (SC), Matt Gaetz (FL), Jeff Van Drew (NJ), Diana Harshbarger (TN), Brian Babin (TX), Bill Posey (FL), Dan Bishop (NC), Gus Bilirakis (FL), Andy Biggs (AZ), Bill Huizenga (MI), Rick Allen (GA), Lisa McClain (MI), Mike Kelly (PA), John Rutherford (FL), Greg Murphy (NC), Greg Steube (FL), Claudia Tenney (NY), Mary Miller (IL), Tim Burchett (TN), Michael Cloud (TX), Mike Bost (IL, Scott Perry (PA), Thomas Massie (KY), Pete Stauber (MN), Bill Johnson (OH), Wesley Hunt (TX), Ben Cline (VA), John Moolenaar (MI), Pat Fallon (TX), Barry Loudermilk (GA), Brad Finstad (MN), Ryan Zinke (MT), and Byron Donalds (FL).