Senators: No Vote for New Defense Spending Without Vote to End Military’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and 19 other senators are threatening not to vote for new defense spending unless there’s also a vote to end the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“We’re taking action today by saying we will not vote to get on the NDAA—the defense authorization bill—unless we have a vote on ending this military vaccine mandate. That’s it,” Paul told reporters during a Nov. 30 briefing in Washington.

Paul said the mandate doesn’t make sense because the COVID-19 vaccines don’t stop transmission. Additionally, he noted that young people face an elevated risk of heart inflammation—which can lead to death—following receipt of the vaccines while facing little risk from COVID-19 itself. Further, many members have already had COVID-19, granting them a form of protection against reinfection and severe disease that many studies have determined is superior to the protection from the vaccines.

“Some will argue that the vaccine mandate in the military is not new. That is correct,” Paul, a doctor, said. But the three factors make the mandate different from the others, he added.

Paul was joined by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Rick Scott (R-Fla.). Another 13 senators have signed on to a pledge not to vote for the defense spending legislation absent a vote on the mandate.

Republican leadership hasn’t yet taken a position on the demand, the senators said.

“The problem here is that we’re having a dilemma we haven’t had in decades and that’s finding enough people [to] serve in the military, [and] our recruiting goals are way short,” Graham said. “The conflicts in the world are getting worse, not better. We need more people in the military, not less. And this mandate is gonna result in thousands, tens of thousands of able-bodied Americans who are well trained leaving the military because they chose not to get vaccinated.”

By Zachary Stieber

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