The $858 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was passed on Thursday and part of the bill rescinds the U.S. military vaccine mandate. This is good news.
But most Republican senators wanted to go further in helping some former service members. Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson introduced an amendment that, according to Roll Call, “reinstated troops discharged for refusing to be vaccinated for COVID-19, provided them back pay and service time, and prevented the Pentagon from reinstating the vaccine mandate without congressional authorization.”
“That amendment was defeated 40-54, with the threshold for its adoption being 60 votes,” Roll Call reported.
All 50 Democrats voted against the amendment, so it wasn’t close to reaching the threshold in the first place. But the vote against this amendment was 54, which meant four Republicans had to crossover and vote with the Democrats.
Those four Republicans were Senators Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Mike Rounds and Mitt Romney.
Vote was 40-54
4 GOPs (Sens. Cassidy, Collins, Romney & Rounds) joined all 50 Dems in opposing adding Amendment to NDAA pic.twitter.com/hAJU6AOrJn
— Mona Salama (@MonaSalama_) December 16, 2022
Getting rid of the military vaccine mandate overall was the focus of more than a dozen of the senators who also voted in favor of Cruz and Johnson’s amendment.
“Thirteen GOP senators, led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), had vowed not to vote in favor of the annual spending bill if the vaccine requirement was not rescinded,” the New York Post noted on Thursday. “Service members who refused to get vaccinated faced expulsion from the military.”
The group of Republicans wrote in a letter to GOP Senate leaders, “The United States simply cannot afford to discharge our brave men and women in uniform and lose the investments we have made into each and every one of them due to an inept bureaucratic policy.”
The NDAA for 2023 passed the Senate by an overwhelming majority with an 83-11 vote.
Sens. Paul and Rick Scott noted in an op-ed last week that, “As of April 2022, approximately 3,400 troops have been discharged from the military for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.”
“It is outrageous that the U.S. military is firing young service members who choose not to get vaccinated. There is no justification,” the pair insisted. “The pandemic has been declared over for months. Schools, businesses and local governments have belatedly and finally opened. Nothing makes sense — not even the science.”
They added, “The CDC acknowledges the COVID vaccine does not stop transmission, so the argument that the mandate will stop incapacitating spread in the close quarters of military barracks is not applicable.”