GOP Lawmakers Seek to Reinstate Troops Discharged over Vaccine Mandate

Posted 53 days ago


A growing number of Republican lawmakers are seeking to prevent military discharges for tens of thousands of service members not complying with the Biden administration’s coronavirus vaccine mandate — which could become a reality if Republicans retake Congress this fall.

So far, at least five Republican House lawmakers have introduced bills that would prohibit discharges or reinstate service members discharged from the military solely over their non-compliance with the vaccine mandate: Reps. Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Brian Mast (R-FL), Chip Roy (R-TX), and Chris Smith (R-NJ).

House Armed Services Committee members Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), chairman of the Republican Study Committee and a Navy reservist, recently queried Pentagon leaders on the effects of the discharges. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) recently called for a review of how the mandate has affected military readiness.

“It’s my belief, though I would never want to prejudge any outcome, that driving people out of the military doesn’t make our military stronger, it makes our military weaker,” Gaetz said on his podcast Firebrand last week, where he spoke to three active duty service members who spoke out against the mandate.

Gaetz, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said he also plans to introduce legislation to ban any mandate for experimental vaccines and to restore to rank and pay anyone who was coerced to leave the military over the mandate.

These proposals could become a reality if Republicans take control of the House and Senate this November, which they have a chance of doing, according to recent polling showing that Republicans have an advantage over Democrats.

Former President Donald Trump has also called for the reinstatement of troops discharged over the vaccine, with back pay.

So far, the military has expelled more than 3,400 service members from the military over the mandate put into place by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in August, according to the Military Times. Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley have shown no signs of rescinding the mandate.

That number includes at least 1,787 Marines, at least 793 sailors, at least 351 active duty airmen and Guardians, and at least 505 soldiers, according to the most current statistics provided by each service.

More than 24,000 service members have applied for exemptions from the vaccine mandate on religious grounds, according to Liberty Counsel, a non-profit Christian ministry that has filed lawsuits defending service members.

So far, fewer than 100 service members have been granted accommodation from the mandate, according to the services’ latest statistics. Members of Congress and service members say religious accommodations are only being granted to those already leaving the military.

Liberty Counsel recently filed a memo urging a federal judge to issue a class-wide preliminary injunction that wo... (Read more)

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