Republican Lawmakers Take Aim At Military Vaccine Mandate

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
Font Size:

Republican lawmakers are seeking to get rid of President Joe Biden’s military vaccine mandate, which has resulted in the discharge of thousands of troops since it was implemented in August 2021.

Senate Republicans, led by Tennessee’s Marsha Blackburn, are moving to amend the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to get rid of the mandate, according to Politico. The House version of the annual defense spending bill passed without the amendments in July, but the Senate version will come to the floor soon.

Blackburn has sponsored bills that would drop the vaccine mandate during times the military isn’t at its “end strength” target for number of troops, which is currently the case. Those bills could become the basis for the amendments to the NDAA, Politico reported.

Eight thousands active-duty troops have been discharged over the vaccine mandate since it was implemented, and the armed forces fell about 10,000 people short of their recruitment goal for 2022, with prospects for 2023 looking bleak as well.

Blackburn’s amendments did not make it into an initial tranche of 75 bipartisan amendments for the Senate bill, but could still advance through closed door negotiations this week, according to Politico. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Elite Military Unit Risks Mass Exodus Over Vaccine Mandate, Retired Member Says)

The vast majority of servicemembers have complied with the mandate. More than 98% are vaccinated, according to Department of Defense (DOD) data. However, there has been some criticism of military branches for not approving enough religious exemptions to the mandate. Both the Air Force and Navy have been blocked from discharging servicemembers who were denied a religious exemption request.

In last year’s NDAA, Republicans were able to successfully pass an amendment preventing troops from being dishonorably discharged for refusing the vaccine.