Home United States USA — mix Congress set to rescind COVID-19 vaccine mandate for troops

Congress set to rescind COVID-19 vaccine mandate for troops

27
0
SHARE

The COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the U.S. military would be rescinded under the annual defense bill heading for a vote this week in Congress, ending a directive that helped ensure the vast majority of troops were vaccinated but also raised concerns that it harmed recruitment and retention.
The COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the U.S. military would be rescinded under the annual defense bill heading for a vote this week in Congress, ending a directive that helped ensure the vast majority of troops were vaccinated but also raised concerns that it harmed recruitment and retention.
Republicans, emboldened by their new House majority next year, pushed the effort, which was confirmed Tuesday night when the bill was unveiled. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy personally lobbied President Joe Biden in a meeting last week to roll back the mandate.
Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said the removal of the vaccination requirement was essential for the defense policy bill to move forward.
“We have real recruitment and retention problems across all services. This was gas on the fire exacerbating our existing problem,” Rogers said. “And the president said, you know, the pandemic is over. It’s time for us to recognize that and remove this unnecessary policy.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday that Biden told McCarthy he would consider lifting the mandate but Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had recommended it be kept.
“I would remind all of you that the Pentagon has a range of vaccines it has long required,” Jean-Pierre said Monday. “So this is nothing new.”
The vaccine provision is one of the more acrimonious differences in the annual defense bill that the House is looking to wrap up this week and send to the Senate. It sets policy and provides a roadmap for future investments. It’s one of the final bills Congress is expected to approve before adjourning, so lawmakers are eager to attach their top priorities to it.
Service members and the Defense Department’s civilian workforce would get a 4.6% pay increase, according to a summary of the bill released Tuesday night. The legislation also requires a review of the rate of suicide in the Armed Forces since Sept. 11, 2001, broken down by service, occupational specialty and grade. It also requires the defense secretary to rescind the COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
Military leaders acknowledge that the vaccine requirement is one of several factors contributing to their recruiting struggles. It may dissuade some young people from enlisting, but officials don’t know how many.

Continue reading...