WASHINGTON — The must-pass bill which sets national defense policy is in jeopardy as Republican lawmakers continue to oppose the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for troops.
Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and other Republican members of the Senate are threatening to derail the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the Fiscal Year 2023 unless the mandate is dropped.
The senators outlined their intentions in a letter addressed to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republican leaders Wednesday.
"The Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccine mandate has ruined the livelihoods of men and women who have honorably served our country," a group of senators wrote. "As of April 2022, approximately 3,400 troops have been discharged from the military for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19."
The senators also called for those separated from the military due to the policy to be reinstated with back pay.
The NDAA is considered a must-pass bill since it sets yearly spending amounts for the Department of Defense. Virginia U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine expressed confidence that Congress would pass a new NDAA after Thanksgiving.