With the House passing the 2023 Defense bill, military personnel will no longer be mandated to take the COVID vaccine. Numerous Republicans supported the mandate being repealed, and they are now championing the bill. Florida Rep. Mike Waltz (R) called the passing of the 2023 Defense bill as the right path forward for the United States.
Rep. Waltz celebrated the “leadership” of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) and Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R) for guiding the passage of the bill and “securing the repeal of the COVID vaccine mandate that is crushing our recruitment and retention of military personnel.”
Waltz expressed that the bill ensures the United States “will be providing the men and women of our military services a 4.6% pay increase, requiring the Army to establish gender-neutral fitness standards for combat occupational specialties, reaffirming America’s support for Taiwan’s defense, making permanent the Pentagon’s prohibition on procurements sourced from Uyghur slave labor, and authorizing new construction projects across Florida’s military facilities at Flagler Palm Coast NG Maintenance Facility, Patrick Space Force Base, Camp Blanding Army NG Joint Training Center, MacDill Air Force Base, Eglin Air Force Base, and Jacksonville (JAX) Air National Guard.”
However, Rep. Waltz does argue that there is further work to be done, mentioning that Congress must ensure “our military is equipped to face the threats of the Chinese Communist Party and other adversaries, providing oversight of the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, eliminating politicization of the military, and continuing to improve the quality of life for our troops and their families to ensure we continue to have the greatest fighting force in the world, capable of defending our freedoms from all threats.”
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R), a staunch supporter of repealing the vaccine mandate for military personnel, also championed the passage of the bill, taking to social media to share examples of military members who were affected by the mandate.
Before the COVID-19 mandate, Lt. Col. Duncan was slated to take command of an F-35B squadron, an honor taken away despite the religious accommodation process and an honor he had been working on his whole life to attain by excelling in his profession.
— Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 8, 2022