Kentucky senator leads group to block military funding vote over vaccine mandate

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 5:49 PM EST

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A group of Republican senators is pumping the brakes on military funding because of a Biden administration vaccine mandate. The group of 13 led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) penned a letter to their own GOP leaders Wednesday stating their opposition to moving toward passage of the National Defense Authorization Act. The NDAA is the massive piece of legislation that funds the military every year.

“Our young men and women in the military deserve better,” said Paul at a press conference.

Paul, flanked by his coauthors argued the mandate has ruined the livelihoods of thousands of American servicemen and women, discharged for not getting vaccinated.

The letter threatens the group will not vote to proceed with the military funding package unless another vote is taken on their amendment which calls for getting rid of the mandate and reinstating discharged service members with back pay.

“At a time when the military is struggling to meet their targets for recruitment, the Biden Administration is firing soldiers we invested in and trained,” said Paul.

In August 2021, the Food and Drug Administration fully approved the COVID vaccine, deeming it safe and effective. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and President Joe Biden then mandated the shot for service members.

The senators are threatening to block a package which usually sees widespread bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. Military leaders are pleading for it to pass as threats continue to mount, particularly from Russia and China.

“It’s essential that the DOD has the authorities needed to defend our nation, deter our adversaries, and support a lethal, resilient, and healthy joint force,” said Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary.

Many of the Republican senators added they plan to eventually support the NDAA after a vote on their vaccine amendment. They would not say how leadership reacted to the push for their amendment after it was discussed at a party lunch on Wednesday.