Defense Bill Repeals Biden’s Military COVID Vaccine Mandate Passes House, Heads To Senate For Vote

 December 9, 2022

In a big Republican win, on Thursday, the House passed a massive defense bill, on a bipartisan basis but repealed the Biden administration’s historic military vaccine mandate. The bill passed on a 350-80 vote.

It was a hard-fought win, as lawmakers haggled back and forth at the last minute, over whether to include some controversial measures. Since it authorizes the DOD’s day-to-day activities, including paying troops, this bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), authorizes the Department of Defense’s activities and spending for the next year, and is considered “must-pass legislation”. In fact, it has passed every year, for the last sixty years, making it a tempting target for Democrats to attach unrelated items, to the bill - especially this year, before Republicans are set to take control of the House.

With Republicans threatening not to move on the bill, if these were attached, none of the most controversial items the Democrats tried to attach made it through. A proposal backed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) that would allow mainstream media companies to form a cartel, to bargain with Big Tech companies for featuring their content, which would have hurt independent and conservative media outlets alike, was dropped at the last minute due to a revolt by Senate Republicans.

Getting language in the bill, to repeal the Biden administration’s military vaccine mandate, was another big win as it has been threatening the jobs of at least 70,000 service members. Ordered August of 2021, and effectively costing 8.000 service members their jobs to date, the language was changed and passed. Previously, the Pentagon had refused to budge on the mandate.

Over the past several weeks, Republican opposition to the mandate gained steam and reached a fevered pitch over the last week. In the final days of negotiations, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) led a group of Republican senators to get the language in the bill, via House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) negotiating with Democrats on Republicans’ behalf. Unable to get language into the bill, to reinstate the more than 8,000 service members kicked out over the mandate, Republicans vow to fight for that, when they retake the House in January.

Including permitting reform wanted by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), and a proposal to allow marijuana companies to access banking institutions, Democrats did not attach other items unrelated to defense, to this bill. Effectively, the bill authorizes $858 billion in spending for the DOD and also places more military resources in the Indo-Pacific region, in support of Taiwan, to counter an increasingly antagonistic China. It also included a boost in spending for Ukraine, with $800 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

And here at home, the bill provides for a boost in money for housing allowances with lowering grocery prices on base. This is in an effort to help troops and their families with the current historic inflation. It also gives troops a 4.6% pay raise.

Expected to pass on a bipartisan basis, the bill now goes to the Senate. A big win for House Republicans, with obvious concessions by House Democrats, the bill would appear to represent a win for the American military, hopefully to encourage more enlistments, which are at record lows across the board in all branches of service. It will also hopefully restore some confidence, in those, who were about to lose their jobs related to a COVID mandate they previously had been compelled to participate in.

As the bill heads to the Senate and then on to Biden for a signature, all eyes will be on the ability of this bipartisan effort to hold. That congress and the executive branch will finally have to work together, for the good of all Americans, just before the House changes in January, will be very telling. In the spirit of co-operation, as laid down by our founders, this bill represents a big step towards finally getting something collectively accomplished.

“It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.”

-William James
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