President Joe Biden’s administration on Wednesday came out against efforts to prevent dishonorable discharges for U.S. troops who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Office of Management and Budget said in a policy statement it “strongly opposes” an amendment to the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that bars any discharge but honorable for service members.
The provision “would detract from readiness and limit a commander’s options for enforcing good order and discipline when a Service member fails to obey a lawful order to receive a vaccination,” the office said, adding that commanders “must have the ability to give orders and take appropriate disciplinary measures” in order to have “a uniformed force to fight with discipline.”
The amendment received support from members of both parties during a markup of the act on Sept. 1. It was authored by Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), a military veteran and a doctor.
At the time, Green said he understood the need for a vaccine mandate but noted that no longitudinal data is yet available for the COVID-19 vaccines, adding that service members who decide not to get vaccinated and are ultimately discharged should receive an honorable discharge.
“I am dismayed and concerned that the Biden administration is trying to remove my amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that prevents anything but an honorable discharge for servicemembers who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” Green told The Epoch Times in an email.
“This was a bipartisan amendment—not one Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee opposed it. Nothing is more telling of the current political climate than the Biden administration refusing to respect the rights of our military that every House Democrat on the Committee voted for,” he added.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last month ordered U.S. troops to get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine shortly after it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The order was backed by Biden, who has imposed mandates on all government workers and has ordered a mandate on the private sector.