Top Republican Senator Calls on Pentagon to Suspend COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate
A top Republican senator is urging the Department of Defense to suspend its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, asserting there could be a devastating cost with enforcing the requirement.
“This haphazardly implemented and politically motivated vaccine mandate must be immediately suspended or risk irrevocable damage to our national security,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking GOP member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote in an Oct. 18 letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Austin in late August ordered the heads of each branch to develop COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including deadlines. The earliest deadline is Nov. 2. The latest numbers show hundreds of thousands of troops, primarily in the Army, remain unvaccinated.
Inhofe said the Biden administration’s imposition of mandates on the military and civilians risks readiness and morale.
“At a time when our adversaries continue to increase their quantitative and qualitative advantage against our forces, we should seek to ensure that no policy, even unintentionally, hinders military readiness,” he said, adding that he was troubled with “the lack of clarity and consistency” across the services as leaders try to implement the “hasty” mandate.
Responses from the Pentagon to the Senate panel on the impacts of the mandate on the military have been unsatisfactory, according to Inhofe.
The Pentagon did not respond to a request for comment.
Republicans have spoken out before about the military mandate and others like it but Inhofe is the highest-profile GOP member to push for a suspension of the vaccination requirements.
A spokesperson for Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who chairs the panel, did not return an inquiry, nor did a spokesperson for Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.
Representatives for Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the chair of that committee, declined to comment on Inhofe’s letter, pointing instead to Smith’s previous statements on vaccines for service members and civilians who work for the Pentagon.
Smith in August said he backed Austin’s mandate, alleging that “vaccination is the only way to beat this virus.”
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
“Protecting those who serve the United States in uniform from COVID-19 is far too important for partisan games or anti-science misinformation. COVID-19 vaccination across the U.S. military is a national security and military readiness issue. I applaud the Biden-Harris Administration for trusting science and prioritizing the health of service members, their families, and our communities,” Smith said at the time.
He later offered a similar statement in support of the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate for civilians.
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.