Congress is set to roll back Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for troops.
Secretary Austin imposed a vaccine mandate for US troops last year.
Lloyd Austin wants the vaccine mandate for the US military to stay in place and Joe Biden agrees.
“The president agrees with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that the Pentagon should continue to require all service members be vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.
Congress however is set to rescind the vaccine mandate for troops through the annual defense bill.
The COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the U.S. military would be rescinded under the annual defense bill heading for a vote this week in Congress, ending a directive that helped ensure the vast majority of troops were vaccinated but also raised concerns that it harmed recruitment and retention.
Republicans, emboldened by their new House majority next year, pushed the effort, which was confirmed Tuesday night when the bill was unveiled. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy personally lobbied President Joe Biden in a meeting last week to roll back the mandate.
Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said the removal of the vaccination requirement was essential for the defense policy bill to move forward.
“We have real recruitment and retention problems across all services. This was gas on the fire exacerbating our existing problem,” Rogers said. “And the president said, you know, the pandemic is over. It’s time for us to recognize that and remove this unnecessary policy.”