President Biden refuses to support GOP proposal to remove military vaccine mandate
Kevin McCarthy has pledged that his party will oppose a budget bill funding the Defense Department’s operations next year if a rule supported by the president and military isn’t revoked.
President Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin both said they oppose an effort by congressional Republicans to make the removal of the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate one of the conditions for their support for the National Defense Authorization Act.
“We lost a million people to this virus,” Austin told reporters on Saturday. “A million people died in the United States of America. We lost hundreds in DOD. So this mandate has kept people healthy.”
He added, “I support continuation of vaccinating the troops.”
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Biden agreed with Austin’s decision to keep the vaccine mandate in place.
“He continues to believe that all Americans including those in the armed forces should be vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19,” Kirby told reporters on Monday.
“This remains very much a health and readiness issue for the force,” Kirby added.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed on Fox Business on Sunday that removing the mandate would be Republicans’ “first victory” since winning control of the House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections.
McCarthy added the bill “will not move” without the mandate being lifted.
Austin first ordered the vaccine mandate on Aug. 24, 2021, in a memo to senior Pentagon leadership. All active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces were ordered to be vaccinated as well as reserve members including those serving in the U.S. National Guard.
Republicans have frequently attacked the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, despite the fact that for decades the military has immunized servicemembers with multiple vaccines, and service members who refused vaccinations without an approved exemption have been discharged.
“Unvaccinated Soldiers present risk to the force and jeopardize readiness,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said in a February statement.
The Army reported on Dec. 1 that 97% of active Army members had been vaccinated against COVID-19 and that 1,841 members had been dismissed after refusing to get the vaccine.
The virus has continued to be a threat to the public, particularly in the form of its variants. Medical experts have recommended booster shots to protect the public against the spread of the virus.
More than 1 million people in the United States have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic.
The Biden administration has continued to encourage the public to get vaccinated and get booster shots.
“Even if you’ve gotten vaccinated or boosted, even if you’ve had COVID before – get the updated vaccine to protect you and your family ahead of the holidays,” Biden wrote in an Oct. 28 tweet.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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