Senate Passes Defense Bill Repealing Military Covid Vaccination Order



CNN

On Thursday, the Senate voted to pass the approving legislation $858 billion in national security funding and rescind the US military’s covid vaccine mandate.

Now that it has passed the Senate, it is headed for President Joe Biden’s signature. House has already approved the move – The final negotiated version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023, which sets the policy agenda and authorizes funding for the Department of Defense.

As part of its $858 billion topline for national security funding, the measure specifically authorizes $817 billion for the Department of Defense. The massive bill contains numerous policy provisions. Among them, it would authorize a 4.6% pay raise for military service members. These include provisions to strengthen air power and ground combat defense capabilities and cyber security. It also aims to strengthen US support for Ukraine and NATO.

The move to repeal the military’s Covid vaccine mandate comes after congressional Republicans pushed to repeal it. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy praised the arrangement, saying, “The end of President Biden’s military COVID vaccine order is a victory for our military and for common sense.”

Before voting on the final passage, the Senate voted on some amendments.

A proposed amendment, Republican Sen. from Wisconsin The measure, offered by Ron Johnson and other conservatives, would reinstate military members discharged for refusing to receive Covid-19 vaccines. However, the amendment was not implemented.

The basic defense bill repeals the vaccination mandate for the military, but does not reinstate those service members.

White House He declined to comment last week Will Biden sign the mandatory annual defense bill if it includes a provision to repeal the military Covid vaccine mandate, reiterating that the president continues to support a mandate but leaves the door open for repeal.

But even as White House officials deferred to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s opposition to rescinding the order — apparently sidelined — the inclusion of the provision in the final settlement agreement underscores a reality that has played out behind the scenes in recent days. Democrats decided that including the GOP priority was necessary to get the policy bill across the finish line. White House officials quietly agreed, meaning their opposition to the vaccine language would not impede the bill’s passage.

The final version of the defense policy bill is the result of lengthy negotiations between key House and Senate lawmakers.

The bill outlines a policy agenda for the Department of Defense and the U.S. military, and authorizes spending in line with the Pentagon’s priorities even if the legislation does not qualify for funding.

This story and topic have been updated with additional improvements.

Correction: This story has been updated to say exactly who was behind efforts to include an amendment to reinstate military members who have not received a Covid-19 vaccine. This action was taken by Sen. Ron Johnson and other Senate conservatives offered.

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