Republican Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, introduced a bill Tuesday that would reinstate troops who were fired for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine and would ensure that they are not discharged for being unvaccinated in the first place, according to a press release from the congressman’s office.
“Due to President Biden’s anti-science vaccine mandate, hundreds of battle-ready service members have been separated from the Armed Forces so far,” Roy said. “Worse, the Department of Defense (DOD) has denied many medical and religious exemptions, which has resulted in forcing service members to choose either their faith or livelihoods.”
Calling Biden’s Pentagon vaccine mandate “power-hungry,” Roy said that hundreds of American service members are being forced out of the military because of it, taking “years of subject-matter expertise, careers of selfless sacrifice and lifelong dreams of military service” with them.
“This is strategically foolish, profoundly un-American and completely unacceptable,” he said. “I introduced the Service Restoration Act to ensure that the brave men and women of our Armed Forces are not fired over this wrong-headed mandate.”
The proposed legislation also prohibits federal funds from being used to require service members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, requires that the defense secretary reinstate fired service members at the same rank, requires that the defense secretary count the service members’ time separated from the military towards their retirement benefits and requires that the defense secretary expunge any negative action from the service members’ record due to vaccine refusal.
The Pentagon made the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all service members last year, including the National Guard and Reserve, CBS News reported in December. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said that the vaccine is critical to maintaining a heathy military that is ready to defend the nation. The Pentagon is also reportedly considering making the coronavirus booster shots mandatory for service members.
Last Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that the Army will immediately begin discharging soldiers who have refused the COVID-19 vaccine, putting more than 3,300 service members at risk of being fired.
In its first instance of discharging currently serving sailors over the mandatory vaccines, the Navy told the AP at the end of January that it has thrown out 23 active-duty sailors for refusing the shot.
The Service Restoration Act’s cosponsors include Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green, R-Ga., Michael Cloud, R-Texas, Bill Posey, R-Fla., Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Van Taylor, R-Texas and Bob Good, R-Va..
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