Thirteen Republican senators are calling for a vote to end the military COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The senators made their demand in a letter, spearheaded by Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky, to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Wednesday.
Also signing the letter were Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mike Braun of Indiana, Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Marco Rubio of Florida, Steve Daines of Montana, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi and Josh Hawley of Missouri.
In the letter, they express opposition to moving ahead with the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023, unless the Senate votes on an amendment to prohibit discharges from the Armed Forces solely because of COVID-19 vaccination status.
"The Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccine mandate has ruined the livelihoods of men and women who have honorably served our country," the letter says.
"While the Department of Defense certainly must make decisions that will bolster military readiness, the effects of the mandate are antithetical to readiness of our force, and the policy must be revoked.
"The United States simply cannot afford to discharge our brave men and women in uniform and lose the investments we have made into each and every one of them due to an inept bureaucratic policy. … We respectfully request that the Senate vote on this important issue that adversely affects our service members and our national security."
A statement from Scott's office noted that as of April 2022, about 3,400 troops have been discharged from the military for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Also on Wednesday, a group of 21 Republican governors sent a letter to congressional leaders calling on them to prohibit President Joe Biden from issuing a "COVID-19 vaccine mandate" for military members.
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