The military’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement could end if Republican senators succeed in amending the National Defense Authorization Act that’s expected to pass in the coming weeks, Grace reports.
The Senate bill will likely come to the floor soon, and the GOP will try to amend it. The House passed its version of the defense bill in July, leaving the mandate intact. A conference committee must reconcile them before final enactment.
Bills sponsored by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, could form the basis for amendments. Recruiting shortfalls: Blackburn wants to lift the mandate when the military isn’t meeting its “end strength” target — the number of troops in the force — which is the case right now.
The Army missed its recruitment goal by almost 10,000 soldiers for fiscal 2022, and defense officials aren’t optimistic about 2023. The vaccine mandate isn’t helping. The armed services have discharged 8,000 active-duty troops since Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin first directed service members to get vaccinated in August 2021.
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