"What we think happened here is that Republicans in Congress have decided that they'd rather fight against the health and wellbeing of our troops than protecting them," Jean-Pierre said. "And we believe that it is a mistake what we saw happen on the NDAA as it relates to the vaccine mandate."
On Tuesday night, lawmakers released the plan for the National Defense Authorization Act, a compromise that would increase the military budget by 8 percent compared to fiscal year 2022 while repealing the military's Covid vaccine mandate for service members, reports the Military Times.
The $858 billion plan includes a 4.6 percent pay raise for troops, and an extra nearly $19 billion to offset the impact of inflation.
The House is expected to pass the bill by the end of the week.
In the Senate, over a dozen Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Rick Scott, and Sen. Ted Cruz, joined in signing a letter stating their intention to vote against the NDAA if it didn't include the anti-mandate provision.
If it passes the Senate, it will then land on the desk of President Joe Biden for him to sign. According to Military Times, there has been an unbroken six-decade-long streak of advancing the legislation into law.
The passing of the NDAA with the strike of the vaccine mandate came just days after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened to kill the bill if it didn't include it. However, in his version of events, it was a bipartisan effort that included President Biden himself.
"We're working through what is the national defense bill, we will secure lifting that vaccine mandate on our military. Because what we're finding is, they're kicking out men and women that have been serving… That's the first victory of having a Republican majority, and we'd like to have more of those victories, and we should start moving those now," the Republican leader said on Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures," with Maria Bartiromo.
"You're saying in the NDAA, which we'll drop next week, the vaccine mandate for the military will be lifted?," Bartiromo asked.
McCarthy confirmed, and seemed to contradict what Sec. Jean-Pierre said on what the administration's feelings were on the subject.
"Yes, it will. Otherwise, the bill will not move," McCarthy replied. "I've been very clear with the president. The president... worked with me on this. This is the first sign of having divided government, you got some compromise here. And we've got something that Republicans have been working very hard, and a number of Democrats, too, trying to find success. But one-party rule would never allow that to go forward. And now we're going to have success."
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