Roll Call reports that four Senate Republicans voted against a measure that would have given U.S. military troops who were discharged for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 their jobs back.
Those four Senate Republicans are Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Mitt Romney (R-UT).
They joined all 50 Senate Democrats to oppose the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Roll Call reports:
One of those amendments — by Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — would have reinstated troops discharged for refusing to be vaccinated for COVID-19, provided them back pay and service time, and prevented the Pentagon from reinstating the vaccine mandate without congressional authorization. That amendment was defeated 40-54, with the threshold for its adoption being 60 votes.
More than 8,000 service members have been discharged for refusing to comply with the Pentagon's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
They will now remain discharged, thanks, in part, to these four Republicans.
But, it's not all bad news.
On Thursday, the Senate voted to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual measure that establishes the budget and expenditures of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) for the coming fiscal year. This year, the NDAA, which authorizes some $858 billion in spending, passed through the Senate by a vote of 83 to 11.
The good news is that the NDAA rescinds the Pentagon's COVID-19 vaccination mandate for U.S. military personnel.
This is thanks to a group of Republicans who made it clear that they would not support the passage of this year's NDAA if it did not rescind the vaccine mandate.
Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rick Scott (R-FL) were among those who led the effort. In an op-ed, they wrote:
There is no justification [for the mandate]. The pandemic has been declared over for months. Schools, businesses and local governments have belatedly and finally opened. Nothing makes sense — not even the science.
The NDAA - with the provision ending the Pentagon's COVID-19 vaccine mandate - has now also passed through the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 350 to 80. It's a significant victory for congressional Republicans.
The only question left is whether President Joe Biden is going to sign the NDAA into law, and the answer is unclear.
White House National Security Council (NSC) communications coordinator John Kirby has touched upon the issue. Fox News reports:
Kirby told reporters that Biden "still believes that repealing the mandate is a mistake," but added, "He also obviously believes that it's important to fund our military."