House Dems consider ending military COVID vax mandate to gain GOP support for Defense spending bill

GOP leaders plan on tackling the vaccine mandate when they are in the majority next Congress if the requirement is not rolled back before that time.

Updated: December 5, 2022 - 3:07pm

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House Democrats are reportedly considering ending the Pentagon's COVID-19 vaccine mandate to win Republican support for the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act.

"I was a very strong supporter of the vaccine mandate when we did it," House Armed Services Committee Chairmen Rep. Adam Smith told Politico on Saturday. "But at this point in time, does it make sense to have that policy from August 2021? That is a discussion that I am open to and that we’re having."

The $847 billion defense bill is scheduled for release Monday, with a vote planned for later this week.

Members of Congress hoped to file the legislation on Friday, but lawmakers were reportedly still debating several issues, including the vaccine policy. Some of the most conservative members of the House Republican Conference reportedly want the bill to also include reinstating military members discharged for not getting vaccinated and giving them their back pay. 

GOP leaders plan on tackling the vaccine mandate when they are in the majority next Congress if the requirement is not rolled back before that time.

Congress met the deadline for passing the defense reauthorization bill 61 consecutive years. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently said he wants to keep the vaccine mandate for troops, despite calls to end it due to low recruitment and high discharge numbers.