The annual National Defense Authorization Act, which has been given the green light without fail since 1961, passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 83-11. It now moves to the president's desk for signature, though his administration has repeatedly said the decision to reverse the policy is a mistake.
"We've been very clear on what we saw happen with the vaccine mandate basically being removed from the NDAA," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said earlier this month, adding that the administration thought it was "a mistake."
She went on to attack Republicans in the Senate, suggesting they'd "rather fight against the health and wellbeing of our troops than protecting them."
Defending the decision, Sen. Rick Scott explained that a reversal of the mandate was actually in the best interest of troops.
"I took shots when I was in the Navy," Scott said, "but I don't remember one shot I took that had the significant health concerns this has, or something that came up so quickly that there was mandates on it."
He then listed the potential health concerns and religious concerns associated with enforcing such a mandate, urging people to "acknowledge that our military men and women have rights, not just our Commander in Chief."
As the New York Times reports, during negotiations Republicans remained steadfast in their desire to see the mandate lifted, with Rep. Kevin McCarthy leading the charge.
While their wish was granted, they failed to convince their Democratic colleagues to include a separate provision introduced by Sens. Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson that would reinstate and provide back pay to those who had been dismissed by the military over their refusal to take the Covid-19 vaccination.
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