(CNSNews.com) - Don’t sacrifice U.S. military readiness for the sake of the “inept bureaucratic policy” on mandatory COVID vaccinations, a group of Republican senators is telling their leaders.
In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders, the thirteen senators pressed for an amendment to the Fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act prohibiting the expulsion of troops who refuse the COVID vaccine and reinstating those who already have been kicked out.
They say the NDAA shouldn't advance without the amendment. But it’s not clear if the senators have the support of McConnell, without whom the amendment won’t succeed.
The letter reads in part:
"The Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccine mandate has ruined the livelihoods of men and women who have honorably served our country. As of April 2022, approximately 3,400 troops have been discharged from the military for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19. While the Department of Defense certainly must make decisions that will bolster military readiness, the effects of the mandate are antithetical to readiness of our force, and the policy must be revoked.”
The letter is signed by Republican Senators Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, Rick Scott, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Mike Braun, Roger Marshall, Tommy Tuberville, Marco Rubio, Steve Daines, Cindy Hyde-Smith, and Josh Hawley.
Sen. Graham told Fox News on Wednesday, "In the coming days and weeks, up to 30,000 people will be discharged from the military for a simple reason. They refuse to take the vaccine.
"At a time when we're falling short of recruitment, we're discharging able-bodied people -- most of them have had COVID -- because they refuse to take the vaccine for personal reasons. I think that's silly. I think that's insane," Graham said.
"So what I want to do is stop the policy of discharging someone who's qualified to serve simply because they won't take a COVID shot. It's odd to me that you're willing to get shot for your country, but we're going to kick you out of the military because you don't take a shot."
Graham noted that millions of illegal immigrants have come across the broken border unvaccinated, "and we're talking about not expelling them under Title 42. We have got a policy to take able-bodied men and women out of military service at a time we're falling short of recruitment. That needs to stop."
Earlier on Wednesday, senators pressing for the amendment held a news conference, where Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called the Biden policy "wrong" and "immoral" and anti-conservative:
"One of the reasons I believe that President Biden and Vice President Harris are pushing through this policy is that I believe they're doing this as an effort to purge from the military conservatives -- purge from the military people who don't agree with their political agenda," Cruz said.
"I think they're using it as an excuse, from the enlisted level all the way up to the majors and colonels to the top brass.
"If you're concerned about the perils of a woke military, if you're concerned about the Biden Defense Department instructing servicemen and women to no longer use pronouns -- never mind defending our nation, we're focused on our political priorities. This is intricately interwoven with the policy of trying to throw out ov the military anyone who dares disagree.
"It ought to be your body and your choice whether you get the vaccine, and we should stand together and support the soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines and Coast Guardsmen who are defending this nation."