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Defense bill could roll back Covid vaccine policy, top Dem says - POLITICO

Defense bill could roll back Covid vaccine policy, top Dem says - POLITICO

Defense bill could roll back Covid vaccine policy, top Dem says - POLITICO
Dec 04, 2022 1 min, 13 secs

Preventative Medicine Services NCOIC Sergeant First Class Demetrius Roberson administers a Covid-19 vaccine to a soldier on Sept.

— Final defense legislation set to be unveiled next week could undo the Pentagon’s policy of kicking out troops for not taking the Covid vaccine, the Democratic chair of the House Armed Services Committee said Saturday.

Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said a rollback of the policy is on the table for a compromise version of the National Defense Authorization Act, but hasn’t been decided yet.

Undoing the policy — a measure that neither the House nor Senate included in their versions of the defense bill — would be a win for Republicans who argue forcing troops to get the shot or leave the military is exacerbating a recruiting and retention crisis.

A group of 13 Republican senators, led by Rand Paul of Kentucky, have promised to try to block the bill unless they’re granted a vote on an amendment to bar kicking out military personnel solely for refusing a Covid-19 vaccine and reinstate separated troops with back pay.

While negotiators are willing to entertain the possibility of undoing the policy, Smith said GOP calls to reinstate or grant back pay to troops who refused the shot amounted to a red line.

“We were very, very aggressive in Washington state on a wide variety of Covid policies,” he said

“At this point, let’s say you got those two shots or that one shot in March of 2021,” Smith said

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