You would no longer be required to get a COVID-19 vaccination to be a member of the U.S. military under the National Defense Authorization Act passed 350-80 in the U.S. House Thursday. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) said in the next Congress he and Republican colleagues will work on getting people already fired for not being vaccinated, reinstated.
“It will save 60,000 service members from being fired wrongly fired due to the Biden COVID mandates on our troops,” said Banks, talking to WIBC’s Tony Katz.
The bill requires the U.S. Sec. of Defense to rescind the order requiring a vaccine, an exemption or discharge.
“That’s something that we fought for in the past couple of weeks,” he said. “The Congressional Black caucus tried to sabotage the language. Others on the Democrat side tried to block this language from being included. But, we were able to fight back and negotiate.”
Republicans like Banks considered the measures originally enacted, according to the military, as a protection against COVID, to be draconian.
“That doesn’t count the 6,000 service members that were already fired,” he said. “In the next NDAA when the Republicans are in the majority in the House, we’re gonna fight to reinstate those service members, give them back pay, put them back in uniform.”
Banks said he doesn’t believe Republicans have the leverage to do that in the current Congress, though the NDAA passed with well over the two-thirds majority needed, making it a truly bi-partisan effort.
Banks said the bill also provides money for building Taiwan’s armaments, to be used as a deterrent to invasion by China.
“China knowing if they try to invade Taiwan or take over Taiwan, there’ll be hell to pay as a consequence.”
The bill also provides $800 million more for Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion. In total the NDAA provides about $858 billion to build up the military, including a 4.6 percent pay raise for members, and money for the building of new naval vessels, which Banks said will still be sorely lacking in his estimation, if the U.S. Navy is to be truly effective.
The bill must pass the Senate next week before going to Pres. Biden for his signature.