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7 Dec, 2022 00:47

US lawmakers look to repeal Pentagon vaccine mandate

Rescinding forced Covid-19 jabs is included in a must-pass national defense funding bill
US lawmakers look to repeal Pentagon vaccine mandate

US House and Senate members are poised to force President Joe Biden’s administration to end its Covid-19 vaccine mandate for members of the military by folding the provision into an annual defense funding bill.

Democrats have agreed to a compromise with Republicans under which they allowed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requiring the Pentagon to end its jab order. The final draft of the NDAA was released on Tuesday night and is scheduled to be voted on by the House later this week.

The move comes amid a military recruiting crisis, which has been blamed at least partly on the vaccine mandate, as well as claims by Republicans that Biden has infringed on the freedoms of US troops.

Representative Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, previously confirmed the agreement, saying he had gained more than 90 co-sponsors for an earlier bill that would end the mandate. “Now it looks like the intent of this legislation could become a reality in the NDAA this month.”

Republicans on the Senate side – such as Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Florida’s Rick Scott and Rand Paul of Kentucky – have also pressed for amending the NDAA to include repealing the jab order. Representative Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican, warned on Monday that the Pentagon was on the verge of discharging nearly 20,000 troops who refused to take the forced inoculations.

“The Pentagon is standing on an order as an order, but you know what, sometimes you need to re-evaluate your orders,” Waltz told Fox News. “We are in a recruiting crisis that is going to take us years to get out of.”

Speaking over the weekend at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California, Commandant of the Marine Corps General David Berger acknowledged that the vaccine mandate was deterring many would-be recruits from enlisting. He blamed the problem on “myths and misbeliefs” about the jabs, especially in southern states.

All branches of the US military have struggled to meet their recruiting quotas. In fact, the US Army missed its fiscal year 2022 hiring target by 15,000 troops, or 25%.

Representative Darrel Issa, a California Republican, argued that merely ending the mandate wouldn’t go far enough. He said the Pentagon must also reinstate and correct the records of service members who were kicked out for refusing the shots, although no such provision was included in the NDAA.