The House Rules Committee has blocked the consideration of any Republican amendment to the yearly defense policy bill. This would have eliminated the Biden administration’s mandate for military vaccinations, regardless of the potential impact on recruiting and military readiness.
The vaccine mandate could mean discharge — as the Department of Defense has vowed — for more than 260,000 troops out of a 2.1 million-force who are not fully vaccinated in accordance with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s order, as recently reported by Breitbart News.
Last week, more than a dozen Republicans submitted 16 amendments to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have ended the mandate for service members and contractors, exposed its effect on the military, or sought to reduce punishments for troops, but Democrats on the House Rules Committee blocked all but one from being considered by the House, ruling them all “out of order.”
The House Rules Committee did not allow consideration of a Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) amendment to express the sense of Congress that members of the Armed Forces should not be discharged for refusing the vaccine for COVID-19, but allowed a Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) amendment that expressed the sense of Congress that the Army’s research on working dogs detecting diseases including COVID-19 should continue to receive funding.
The only Republican amendment allowed was from Rep. Pete Stauber (MN) and required the DOD to report every 60 days on religious and medical exemptions for the COVID-19 vaccine requirement requested and denied, the reasons for such denials, the number of members denied an exemption who complied with the requirement, and the number of members denied who did not comply and were separated.
The House Rules Committee, also known as the Speaker’s Committee, is the body that the Speaker uses in order to keep control of the House’s floor. According to its website. The committee consists of nine Democrats and four Republicans.
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-KY), blasted House Rules Committee for blocking his amendment defunding the mandate.
“Last night the rules committee, controlled by Nancy Pelosi, refused to allow the House of Representatives to vote on my National Defense Authorization Act amendment which would have defunded the military COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” he tweeted.
Last night the rules committee, controlled by Nancy Pelosi, refused to allow the House of Representatives to vote on my National Defense Authorization Act amendment which would have defunded the military COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) July 13, 2022
The committee also blocked an amendment by Rep. Chris Smith (R.NJ), which would have protected troops against receiving a lesser than honorable discharge. This would result in them losing their GI Bill education and other benefits.
” This is not how we treat courageous service personnel who risk their lives to protect and defend our freedoms,” Smith told the committee.
After Democrats stopped Rep. Chip Roy’s (R-TX), amendment to end his mandate, his press team tweeted: “Dems just blocked Rep. Roy’s #HealthCareFreedom Amendment to STOP madness; they won’t even allow this to get a vote .”
We’re in a recruiting crisis and Congress is about to FIRE 60,000 TROOPS with an NDAA that perpetuates Biden’s strategically foolish, un-American vaccine mandate.
Dems just BLOCKED Rep. Roy’s #HealthCareFreedom amendment to STOP the madness; they won’t even let this get a VOTE. https://t.co/sYX0xVRY6c pic.twitter.com/eCIS1VIfbJ
— Rep. Chip Roy Press Office (@RepChipRoy) July 13, 2022
Roy called on Republicans to refuse the National Defense Authorization Act, (NDAA), for failing to do anything to assist service members who have objections to the vaccination.
He said in an interview to Breitbart News:
It’s unconscionable what we’re doing to our service members…It’s unconscionable that the Republicans are willing to vote for an NDAA without getting a fix on that. It’s right that we should. We have the power to do it.
We refuse to do that, and frankly I don’t get it. I’ve had service personnel come to my office emotional about losing either their careers or their loved ones’ careers, parents of their kids, members of the military who have families, who have been in for 15, 17, 19 years, even.
It’s undermining our Defense Department, the ability to recruit and maintain personnel, not to mention their morale at a time when the U.S. Army is at 40% of recruiting levels. It’s absurd. I don’t mean that they haven’t recognized that vaccines can transmit disease, and there are benefits to natural immunity. They’re now going to require the vaccination for all of our healthiest people — military personnel who are in their twenties or thirties.
We’re not talking about 80-year-olds. We’re talking about generally healthy military personnel between the age of 18 and 40 — some are maybe in their fifties or whatever, but it’s absurd and there’s literally no basis for it. If it doesn’t fix the problem, then the Republican Party and Republican Conference should vote against the National Defense Authorization Act.
A recent New York Times article acknowledged that the vaccine mandate was hurting recruiting: “Covid-19 is part of the problem. Recruiters have been unable to build relationships with potential candidates because of the restrictions placed on them by the government during the pandemic. Some potential troops have been kept away by the military’s mandate to provide vaccines
Roy and the House Freedom Caucus demanded from fellow Republicans that they explain their vote for the bill after it was passed by the House last Thursday.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), who has been under fire from conservatives for his support for the NDAA, claimed it was a “stupid rumor” that he and 148 other Republicans supported kicking out service members over the vaccine mandate.
Andrew Badger (a former Utah congressman candidate) tweeted: “Why don’t you, and all the other Republicans who voted in this bill, use your leverage to eliminate the vaccine mandate to service members ?”
This is simply not true –
Why don’t you, and all the Republicans voting for this bill, use your influence to repeal the mandate that vaccines be given to service personnel?
You did it to contractors, and you admitted that it was a dishonorable act.
— Andrew Badger (@BadgerforUtah) July 17, 2022
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-GA explained Monday in a Twitter thread to Crenshaw that while the NDAA allowed for the mandate to be continued by not having provisions to ban it, the Senate seems unlikely to change this.
The NDAA allows Congress to make changes at DOD. It authorizes DOD funding and activities, and Congress has the power to block funding for certain activities if necessary.
The House of Representatives approved the NDAA last Wednesday. The NDAA will now go to the Senate, where some modifications will be made.
The program that allows the military to make people vaxxed and discharged if the refuse to comply will probably remain in the NDAA.
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (@RepMTG) July 18, 2022
Alternative Republicans that submitted anti-mandate amends were: Beth Van Duyne, Scott Fitzgerald (WI), Paul Gosar(AZ), Warren Davidson [OH], Mike Johnson (LA), Stephanie Bice (3OK), Mark Green (4NC), Lauren Boebert (5CO), Darrell Issa (6CA).
Even though the motion was deemed “in order”, the amendments would still have to be brought up for vote on the House floor, and the Democrats who control the majority of the House would likely have rejected them. Nonetheless, the amendments would still have to be considered by lawmakers and recorded as either supporting or opposing them.
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