Congress to eliminate mandatory COVID vaccination for the Armed Forces

Republican representatives forced their Democratic counterparts to withdraw the mandate in order to move the annual defense bill forward.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees reached an agreement to remove the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for the military. This is an important concession from Democrats, who implemented this measure at the express request of Joe Biden despite the division of opinion in Congress and the country as a whole.

In fact, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby made it clear that the president disagrees: Biden "continues to believe that all Americans, including those in the armed forces, should be vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19. This remains very much a health and readiness issue for the force." Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also "supports keeping the vaccine mandate in place," said Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder. According to Austin, "the health and readiness of our forces is critical to our warfighting capability and a top priority."

Republicans want reinstatement for those who were expelled

However, the Democrats were forced to relent after Republicans threatened to stall the annual defense bill (with $858 billion at stake) if this mandate was not eliminated. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, "The end of President Biden's COVID military vaccine mandate is a victory for our military and for common sense. Last week, I told the president directly, 'It's time to end the COVID vaccine mandate and rehire our service members.'"

In addition to abolishing this rule, several GOP senators called to initiate a reinstatement process for members of the military who were kicked out for refusing the vaccine. "While I applaud the end of this onerous mandate — the Biden administration must go further. Unfortunately, the mandate has already had negative consequences for our military" McCarthy said in a statement.

"Unjustly singled out"

Therefore, "The Biden administration must correct service records and not stand in the way of re-enlisting any service member discharged simply for not taking the COVID vaccine," the minority leader continued.

McCarthy further pledged that, with the onset of a Republican majority in the House beginning in January, Republican representatives "will work to finally hold the Biden administration accountable and assist the men and women in uniform who were unfairly targeted by this Administration."