The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a national defense funding bill that rolls back the US military’s Covid vaccine mandate.
The bill passed the House in a 350 to 80 vote and will head to the Senate.
It is unclear if Joe Biden will sign the measure.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin imposed a vaccine mandate for US troops last year.
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Lloyd Austin wants the vaccine mandate for the US military to stay in place and Joe Biden agrees.
“The president agrees with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that the Pentagon should continue to require all service members be vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.
The House voted on Thursday to pass sweeping legislation that would authorize $858 billion in national defense funding and rescind the US military’s Covid vaccine mandate. The measure passed with wide bipartisan support with a tally of 350 to 80.
House lawmakers approved a final negotiated version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023, which sets the policy agenda and authorizes funding for the Department of Defense. Following passage in the House, the measure will next need to go to the Senate to be approved before it can be sent to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.
As part of its $858 billion topline for national defense funding, the measure authorizes $817 billion specifically for the Department of Defense. The massive bill includes a vast number of policy provisions. Among them, it would authorize a 4.6% pay raise for military service members. It includes provisions to strengthen air power and land warfare defense capabilities as well as cybersecurity. It also aims to bolster US support for Ukraine and NATO.
The provision to rescind the military’s Covid vaccine mandate comes after congressional Republicans pushed for its repeal. In a statement Tuesday night, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said, “the end of President Biden’s military COVID vaccine mandate is a victory for our military and for common sense.”