(Presidentialwire.com)- A massive defense authorization bill amendment that would have reinstated soldiers who were discharged for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine was defeated by four Republican senators and joined by Democrats.
A clause repealing the Biden administration’s service-wide vaccination requirement was included in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the Senate approved 83-11 on Thursday night. Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Mike Rounds of South Dakota abstained when a last-minute amendment to the bill would have reunited thousands of troops separated because they refused the vaccine mandate and came up for a vote. The amendment failed 54 to 40.
Regarding Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who announced the vaccine requirement, Cassidy said these were direct orders from commanding officers.
“I voted to repeal the COVID vaccine requirement for military personnel, but it is not the role of Congress to interfere with the chain of command and establish a precedent encouraging military personnel to disobey direct orders,” said Cassidy.
According to information the DOD provided to the DCNF, the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps separated at least 8,400 active duty and reserve soldiers for refusing the August 2021 deadline for all service members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The bicameral defense bill, unveiled late Tuesday, instructs the Pentagon to revoke the directive but stops short of requiring the military to reinstate discharged soldiers in their previous roles or pay compensation. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a Republican, reintroduced a section of the AMERICANS Act that had been removed from the final version of the NDAA text before Thursday’s vote and repealed the Department of Defense’s vaccination requirement.
According to Cruz, who introduced the legislation with his Republican co-sponsors in May, it is utterly unacceptable that the Biden administration is attempting to force our service members to go against their conscience and religious convictions, much less on a contentious topic like the COVID-19 vaccine. The AMERICANS Act will make sure that attempts like these to politicize our military on this issue are thwarted. Defense officials continue to insist that a “readiness issue” is ensuring each servicemember’s overall health, which includes receiving all doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. On December 5, the White House reaffirmed its support for the vaccination requirement.
Republican senators Roy Blunt of Missouri, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Richard Burr of North Carolina, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, and John Barrasso of Wyoming did not vote Thursday night.