Military COVID Vax Mandate to Be Repealed by Annual Defense Bill

U.S. military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate would be repealed under a compromise must-pass annual defense bill revealed Tuesday, ending requirement for all active-duty and part-time troops to get the jab.


The National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which typically passes with large bipartisan majorities, would give the Pentagon 30 days to "rescind the mandate that members of the Armed Forces be vaccinated against COVID-19," according to the text of the bill.

The provision will put an end to a policy that top military officials say is still necessary to ensure the health of the force but that Republican lawmakers railed against as an overreach of executive power and a danger to the military's ability to be ready for a war. Tens of thousands of troops who have refused to get vaccinated faced discharge.

But the NDAA is not likely to be the end of fights related to the mandate, which was ordered in August 2021 by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin as the virus gripped the U.S. and the world. The bill does not reinstate the service members who have already been discharged -- something Republicans are vowing to continue pushing for and that could spark a new phase of legal challenges.

"Make no mistake: This is a win for our military," House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a statement Tuesday night. "But in 28 days the real work begins -- the new House Republican majority will work to finally hold the Biden administration accountable and assist the men and women in uniform who were unfairly targeted by this administration."