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End of the road? Pentagon's COVID vaccine mandate in danger as opposition mounts

Added 12-06-22 11:03:02am EST - “Nearly four months ago, the Biden administration drove past an off-ramp that offered a chance to rethink and possibly scrap its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for U.S. troops.” - Washingtontimes.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Washingtontimes.com: “End of the road? Pentagon’s COVID vaccine mandate in danger as opposition mounts”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Nearly four months ago, the Biden administration drove past an off-ramp that offered a chance to rethink and possibly scrap its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for U.S. troops.

Instead, Pentagon leaders have doubled down on the requirement and are barreling toward a head-on collision with Congress. Lawmakers are seeing a major annual defense spending bill as an effective way to strong-arm the Defense Department into relaxing the policy, reinstating thousands of service members who were kicked out over their refusal to get the shot and giving those troops the backpay they lost.

The high-stakes confrontation, some legal specialists say, could have been avoided. They argue that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Aug. 11 coronavirus guidance — which stated there was “significantly less risk of severe illness” than earlier in the pandemic, when the military mandate was enacted — could have offered the Pentagon a way to back away from a policy that faces legal challenges and is losing political support in Washington.

Even high-profile Democrats, such as House Armed Services Committee Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, say they’re open to a discussion about whether the mandate should be rolled back. Similar debates are reportedly underway in the Senate.

Those discussions are taking place behind the scenes as negotiators hash out the path forward for the $847 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Key Republicans say they’re willing to stand in the way of the bill unless the Pentagon budges on the vaccination requirement, which is responsible for pushing thousands of troops out of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

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