WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) penned an op-ed in the New York Post imploring President Biden to reverse his dangerous military COVID vaccine mandate by swiftly signing the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act into law. The defense bill includes language mirroring Senator Blackburn’s amendment efforts to protect troops from being fired over the COVID vaccine mandate.
Biden’s vindictive military-funding COVID vaccine blackmail harms national security
Senator Marsha Blackburn
Despite his admission “The pandemic is over,” President Joe Biden is refusing to commit to funding our nation’s military unless we continue to force servicemembers to take the COVID shot. In fact, when asked, his press secretary refuses even to say he’ll sign the funding bill.
Our military is suffering a severe recruiting crisis, and Biden’s fixation on a never-ending pandemic and woke military is certainly not helping. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I’ve spent the last six months fighting for our men and women in uniform set to be discharged thanks to the draconian Biden vaccine mandate; and for six months, I have fielded nothing but political deflection that betrays the White House’s complete disregard for our military and our national security.
This should be unthinkable when America’s adversaries around the world are threatening the safety and security of our nation and its allies. North Korea is racing to expand its ballistic missile capabilities, China is increasing its threats against our partner Taiwan and Russia has deepened its relationship with Iran to help wage its war against Ukraine.
During times like these, Biden should be laser-focused on ensuring the US military remains the most lethal fighting force on the globe. Instead, he continues to impose a vindictive and unnecessary vaccine mandate on our troops, forcing many of them to the sidelines. As commander in chief, one of the president’s most important duties is to protect those who volunteer to serve our nation, a duty he violated when he imposed the mandate.
The Pentagon made COVID vaccinations mandatory for our nation’s troops in August 2021. The rules were clear: All servicemembers would take the shot or risk being fired. In doing this, Biden not only failed our men and women in uniform — he undermined our national defense.
More than 8,400 active-duty servicemembers have already been fired for not getting vaccinated, and more than 10,000 soldiers in the Army Reserve and National Guard have been barred from drills, training and pay. The religious exemptions the administration touted were yet another empty promise. As of Dec. 1, the Army had granted just 123 — out of 9,005 requests.
Meanwhile, the number of Americans volunteering to serve continues to decline. The Army alone fell 15,000 soldiers short of its recruiting goal this year, and the US military as a whole is facing its greatest recruiting challenge since the volunteer service’s inception.
But in spite of this clear recruiting and retention crisis, the president chose to bend to the demands of the Democratic Party’s most radical voices. These are the same individuals who, for almost three years, called for lockdowns, school closures and mandatory masking of children in the name of “science.” The “science” changed more than once, but the narrative never did, which tells you all you need to know about where this faction comes down on questions of freedom vs. government control.
It is long past time for Congress to step in. And now, at last, we have secured a bipartisan, bicameral provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that will repeal Biden’s mandate once and for all and restore this basic freedom to our men and women in uniform. Many of our servicemembers have chosen to get vaccinated; others have chosen not to. Whether they opted out due to genuine unease over potential health risks or a sincerely held religious belief, that decision is a personal one that deserves our respect.
I urge the president to recognize this and stand with my colleagues in Congress by repealing the uniquely dangerous power grab that is the military vaccine mandate. He should immediately sign the NDAA into law when it arrives at his desk and work to make whole our troops who were the victims of his quest for power. If not, my congressional colleagues must ensure that soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who were so carelessly discharged are reinstated with back pay.
The Pentagon must also correct relevant military records to ensure those who were unfairly targeted do not have black marks on their record. Those who have volunteered to defend our freedom deserve the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not to get vaccinated. I stand with our troops, and that means standing against President Biden’s military vaccine mandate.