Republican Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio joined other GOP senators on Wednesday in demanding that Republican leaders in the Senate stand up against President Joe Biden’s policy to discharge military personnel who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The Florida Republicans and their colleagues also advocated that troops discharged for refusing to be vaccinated be reinstated with back pay.
The lawmakers notified Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top GOP leaders that they want a single and separate vote on those measures in hashing out the Pentagon’s 2023 budget.
The Defense Department’s mandate “has ruined the livelihoods of men and women who have honorably served our country,” the senators wrote, noting that the Pentagon has discharged roughly 3,400 troops in the last seven months.
“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 senators added, “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.”
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They pointed out that the Army, for example, must spend upward of $90,000 to recruit and train a soldier to replace one kicked out for skipping the mandate.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s recruiting effort is down 23% from its yearly target.
“Due to costs and recruiting challenges, losing thousands of troops due to their vaccination status is a readiness issue that the Department should take seriously,” they concluded.
In addition to Scott and Rubio, the letter was signed by GOP Sens. Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, Mike Braun, Roger Marshall, Tommy Tuberville, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Steve Daines and Josh Hawley.