Douglas Andrews / December 16, 2022

Good and Bad: Congress Repeals Military Vax Mandate

The long-overdue repeal of this onerous mandate is welcome news, but Congress failed our warriors in one crucial matter.

First the good news: The Biden administration’s onerous and ill-conceived military vax mandate has been rescinded. And it’s about flipping time — although it’s not for the right reasons.

Rather than repealing the mandate as a matter of both individual liberty and scientific rigor, not to mention the vaccination of 98% of active-duty military service members, Team Biden and his fellow Democrats are doing so out of pure political expediency.

You see, for 61 straight years, the National Defense Authorization Act has made it through Congress and received a presidential signature. To make it happen one more time, the 16-month-old mandate had to go. The $858 billion bill, which the House passed last week, made it through the Senate yesterday by an 83-11 vote and now heads to Joe Biden’s desk, where he’s expected to sign it.

All this is the result of Republican efforts in both houses to repeal the mandate, including a letter signed by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and 12 other senators calling on Congress to repeal the mandate handed down by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in August 2021, which required all service members to take the jab or face expulsion for refusing an order.

Which leads us to the bad news: The Senate voted against ordering the return of some 3,400 principled and courageous warriors who’d been discharged as of April.

We’ve heard the arguments about the vax mandate being a lawful military order. We’re not convinced. But we are convinced that our military is immeasurably weaker for the message being sent by the Senate’s failure to return these 3,400 to duty.

We noted this last week, when the GOP began flexing its muscle on passage of the NDAA. At that time, Senators Paul and Florida’s Rick Scott argued in an op-ed:

We will not vote to move forward with the NDAA bill until the Senate votes on our amendment to not only prohibit discharges from the Armed Forces based solely on a service member’s COVID-19 vaccination status, but also reinstate those who may have already been separated, with back pay. … Let’s not forget that the mandate ignores natural immunity. Eighty percent of young people have already contracted COVID. By compelling the young to inject a vaccine into their bodies, they are accepting a risk of myocarditis, with limited benefit in terms of decreased risk of severe infection. Whether the argument is science, military readiness, or freedom, the answer is the same — end the mandates and reinstate those who lost their positions taking this stand.

Health policy expert Pradheep Shanker agrees, writing: “When these data are evaluated, it is quite clear we are largely talking about the elderly, especially those over age 80, but also including all individuals over age 65. This, obviously, is not the cohort of patients being considered for military service.”

Slick and smarmy National Security Council spokesman John Kirby called the repeal a mistake. “Making sure our troops are ready to defend this country and prepared to do so,” said Kirby, “that remains the president’s priority, and the vaccine requirement for COVID does just that. But Republicans in Congress have obviously decided that they’d rather fight against the health and well-being of those troops, rather than protecting them.”

Against the health and well-being of our troops? Republicans — and a handful of principled Democrats — are fighting for the health of our young warriors, whose benefits to taking the mRNA vaccine may be outweighed by its potential health risks. That’s what The Science™ says.

Kirby argued that the military has mandated vaccines “nearly since its inception,” but none of them experimental, as this one is, and none of them for an illness, COVID-19, which, as noted above, overwhelmingly affects the elderly and the otherwise infirm.

We can agree, however, on one point Kirby made: Requiring the vaccines was “very much a health and readiness issue for the force.” It certainly was that because the mandate has clearly played a part in our military’s inability to hit its recruiting numbers, which are down a whopping 23% last time we checked.

Now if we could only get Joe Biden to fire his race-obsessed lieutenants — Defense Secretary Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley — and to repeal all of his administration’s vomit-inducing, warrior-demoralizing wokeness standards, maybe we could return our forces to some semblance of esprit de corps and warfighting readiness.

If only.

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