The Biden administration has come out against an amendment to the defense budget that would prevent the Pentagon from dishonorably discharging service members who refuse to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Office of Management and Budget said in a statement Tuesday that the administration “strongly opposes” the amendment, arguing that if it’s implemented, it would “detract from readiness and limit a commander’s options for enforcing good order and discipline when a Service member fails to obey a lawful order to receive a vaccination.”
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Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a memo making the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine mandatory shortly after it got full approval from the Food and Drug Administration late last month. As of last Wednesday, 88% of the active armed forces had received at least one dose of the vaccine, and an additional 5% have been fully vaccinated since the mandate was issued, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said during the daily briefing.
Tennessee Republican Rep. Mark Green, a veteran, has led the push to prevent the military from discharging service members who refuse the vaccine with any distinction other than honorable via the National Defense Authorization Act.
“I am disgusted that the Biden administration is trying to gut my amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that prevents anything but an honorable discharge for servicemembers who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” Green told the Washington Examiner in a statement.
“Every Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee agreed to my amendment. It is tragic and horrifying that the Biden administration can’t respect the rights of our military that every House Democrat on the Committee voted for,” he said.
Kirby, during various briefings dating back to last month, has said numerous times that the Department of Defense will provide commanders with “tools” available to them other than disciplinary action, should it be needed. OMB also noted that the department “will make available a full range of resources to Service members, including individual and professional medical advice, to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine and to ensure they are fully informed about vaccination.”
Service members can also apply for a religious or medical exemption, though they could still be denied.
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In recent weeks, the military branches have come up with their vaccination deadlines. Active-duty members of the Army will have to be vaccinated by Dec. 15, while active-duty members of the Air Force will need to be vaccinated by Nov. 2. Nov. 28 is the deadline for active-duty Navy sailors and Marine Corps members.
Non-active-duty Marine Corps and Navy Reserve service members need to be vaccinated in full by Dec. 28, reserve Air Force personnel have to get the shot by Dec. 2, and Army reservists need it by June 30, 2022.
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Tags: News, National Security, Foreign Policy, Healthcare, OMB, NDAA, Vaccination, Lloyd Austin, Coronavirus, Defense Department, Defense Spending
Original Author: Mike Brest
Original Location: Biden administration ‘strongly opposes’ honorable discharge for service members who refuse COVID-19 vaccine