Annual National Defense Authorization Act released by House and Senate Armed Service Committee leaders repeals mandate
WASHINGTON, December 7, 2022 — House Republican Conference Vice Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04) today commended bipartisan legislation introduced by House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders to repeal the Biden Administration’s military COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
“The Biden Administration’s military vaccine mandate has been an abject disaster—creating the worst recruitment and retention period in the history of our all-volunteer force,” said Johnson. “And now, after the Pentagon has tried, and failed, to make up the difference by reducing recruitment standards, Congress will step in to protect military readiness and the nearly 100,000 servicemembers currently facing discharge. This is a watershed victory for national security, individual liberty, and common sense, over COVID tyranny.”
The provision repealing the Biden Administration’s military COVID-19 vaccine mandate was included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 released last night, which Congress is expected to consider this week.
- Since the Biden Administration began enforcing the military COVID-19 vaccine mandate in November 2021, Congressman Johnson and House Republicans have fought for its repeal.
- In June 2022, Johnson introduced legislation to protect servicemembers seeking religious exemptions from the mandate.
- Later that month, Johnson introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which would require Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to repeal the mandate or lose his waiver to serve as Secretary. The amendment was rejected by House Democrats.
- In December 2021, Johnson led 38 House Republicans alongside Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and 9 Senate Republicans in filing an Amicus Brief in federal court in support of 35 Navy service members seeking religious accommodations from the mandate. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that the Biden Administration cannot punish service members seeking religious exemptions.
- In September 2022, Johnson, along with Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and 47 Republican Members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary Austin demanding further answers from the Pentagon regarding the effect of the mandate on military readiness. The Secretary did not respond to Congress.
- Later that month, Johnson, Roy, and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), and 48 of their Congressional colleagues demanded the Army stop unfairly restricting unvaccinated soldiers from official travel and denying them vital career opportunities.
- Recently, Johnson joined House Armed Services Committee Republicans in seeking further answers from Secretary Austin on the mandate following President Biden’s declaration that the “pandemic is over” and a DOD Inspector General report on denials of religious accommodation requests.
Congressman Johnson is the Vice Chairman of the House Republican Conference, a member of the House Judiciary and Armed Services Committees, and a former constitutional law litigator.