House passes bill scrapping military COVID vaccine mandate

Military Vaccine Mandate
Military Vaccine Mandate(MGN, U.S. Air National Guard / Scott Thompson, U.S. Navy / Trey Fowler)
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 3:07 PM EST
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) - A bill to rescind the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the U.S. military has passed the House.

North country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R. - 21st District), who represents Fort Drum, voted in favor of the National Defense Bill.

“Our country must never fall behind in providing for a strong national defense, which is why I am proud to bring an end to the Biden Administration’s authoritarian COVID vaccine mandate on our servicemen and women that has weakened our military recruitment and impaired our military ranks,” she said in a prepared statement.

The bill approved Thursday directs Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to rescind his 2021 order requiring COVID vaccination.

The bill also provides nearly $858 billion for national defense, which is about $45 billion more than President Joe Biden requested. Lawmakers said the added spending is needed to help the U.S. military keep an edge over China and Russia.

This year’s bill also supports a 4.6 percent pay raise for military members and the Defense Department’s civilian workers.

Stefanik said she secured a number of provisions to strengthen Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division:

  • $10 million short-range reconnaissance drones used by the 10th Mountain Division
  • Requires an updated assessment for an East Coast Missile Defense site at Fort Drum and a funding profile for its establishment
  • $197for million the procurement of additional CH-47 helicopters
  • $32.5 million for arctic organizational clothing and individual equipment (OCIE) gear for the 10th Mountain Division
  • $3.6 million for the planning and design of a new firing range for the Next Generation Squad Weapon

The Senate is expected to approve the bill soon.