- Senator Rick Scott, alongside political heavyweights Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and nine additional lawmakers are calling for the removal of the military’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate
- The group of GOP Senators are threatening to withhold cooperation on the passing of the annual defense budget if a vote is not brought to the Senate floor
- Should the amendment be voted on, and passed, it would reinstate discharged military personnel and provide back pay for missed time
Florida Senator Rick Scott (R), alongside Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and a series of additional lawmakers, wrote to Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Wednesday to call for the end of involuntary military discharges for unvaccinated service personnel.
The group of Republican Senators writes to McConnell demanding that, in exchange for moving forward with a year-end military spending measure, party leaders in the Senate force a vote to repeal the military’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement.
Should the amendment be brought to a vote, it would include stipulations that require leaders to reinstate discharged members of the military, as well as provide back pay for missed time.
“We have to acknowledge that our military men and women have rights, not just our Commander in Chief,” said Scott during a Wednesday press conference. “We have got to make sure we listen to them and stop this. We have got to prohibit involuntary separation, [and] we have to reinstate these individuals with back pay.”
According to the Office of Rick Scott. approximately 3,400 troops have been discharged from the military as of April 2022 for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The letter additionally arises concerns about military spending, stating that while training costs vary between each service, the Army estimates it spends $15,000 in recruiting costs to bring someone into the service and another $50,000 to $75,000 to prepare them to join their first unit, depending on their job.
Proud to stand with @SenRandPaul & our colleagues to make clear we will oppose moving forward w/the NDAA until we vote to end military discharges of unvaccinated service members.
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) November 30, 2022
“The Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccine mandate has ruined the livelihoods of men and women who have honorably served our country…While the Department of Defense certainly must make decisions that will bolster military readiness, the effects of the mandate are antithetical to the readiness of our force, and the policy must be revoked,” the Senators wrote.
According to Politico, the topline for the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act’s budget is $847 billion for national defense and may reach $858 billion if programs that are not under the control of the Senate and House Armed Services committees are included.
Though the group of twelve Senators carries considerable political sway given the names it is made up of, it’s unknown whether Scott, Cruz, and company will be able to sway enough lawmakers to force a vote, halting the defense budget’s passing.