Congress is poised to repeal the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate for troops

A U.S. Marine receives the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at Camp Foster on April 28, 2021, in Ginowan, Japan.

Carl Court docket | Getty Photographs

The Home of Representatives will vote this Wednesday on a protection invoice that may repeal the Pentagon’s mandate on the Covid-19 vaccine for US troops.

The modification to take away the vaccine mandate is included within the Nationwide Protection Authorization Act, a large $858 billion invoice that funds the Pentagon and units protection coverage priorities.

The laws requires the Pentagon to finish the vaccine mandate for service members inside 30 days of the invoice’s enactment. Home Republicans insisted on together with the repeal within the 4,000-page invoice, backing Democrats right into a nook as a result of they should cross laws this month to ensure troops get their pay and advantages on time after the brand new yr.

The invoice will head to the Senate for a vote earlier than it lands on President Joe Biden’s desk. The White Home has not publicly indicated whether or not Biden will signal laws that features repealing the vaccine mandate.

White Home spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre stated Wednesday that Biden believes repealing the vaccine mandate is a mistake, however the president would have a look at the invoice comprehensively.

“Republicans in Congress have determined they’d fairly battle the well being and well-being of our troops than shield them and we consider that is a mistake,” Jean-Pierre stated.

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Biden advised congressional leaders final week that he would think about repealing the mandate, however wished to test with the Pentagon first, Jean-Pierre advised reporters Monday. Home Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., had raised the problem in the course of the assembly.

However John Kirby, the White Home’s nationwide safety spokesman, stated the president and Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin oppose scrapping the mandate.

“Secretary Austin has been very clear that he opposes repealing the vaccine mandate, and the president actually agrees with the secretary that he continues to consider that every one People, together with these within the armed forces, ought to be vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19,” he stated. Kirby. reporters on Monday.

“Vaccines are saving lives and that features our women and men in uniform,” Kirby stated. “So this stays a well being and pressure readiness concern.”

Republican lawmakers have claimed that the Covid vaccine mandate is creating recruiting issues for the armed forces. However the protection secretary stated Tuesday that he had seen no proof of that.

“I have never seen any exhausting information immediately linking the Covid mandate to an impact on our recruiting,” Austin advised reporters at a information convention.

However Gen. David Berger, the highest-ranking officer within the Marine Corps, stated the vaccine mandate has created recruiting issues in sure elements of the nation, significantly within the South. Berger defended the mandate throughout a panel on the Regan Nationwide Protection Discussion board earlier this month as essential to preserve the pressure wholesome. However he stated misinformation has formed many individuals’s views on the pictures.

“There was no correct info from the start and it was very politicized and folks make choices and nonetheless have those self same beliefs. It is exhausting to maintain working,” Berger stated, based on

The Secretary of Protection imposed the vaccine mandate in August 2021, as probably the most extreme variant of delta Covid was sweeping the nation. The navy mandate got here earlier than a broader push by the Biden administration to ensure the large federal workforce was protected against the virus.

The overwhelming majority of Marines, troopers and sailors have been vaccinated in opposition to Covid, however a number of thousand service members have been kicked out for refusing the pictures. The Pentagon has discharged about 3,700 Marines, 1,800 troopers and a pair of,000 sailors for not assembly the vaccine mandate.

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