GOP Holds Up Defense Bill Over COVID Vax Mandate and Woke Policies

defense bill covid mandate
Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s that time of year, everybody! No, I’m not talking about the holiday season full of office Christmas parties you don’t want to go to, or Christmas shopping under stifling inflation.

I’m talking about National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) season, when Congress sits down and passes funding for the Pentagon and military overall before they usher in a New Year.

With the Republicans securing a narrow lead in the House, there may be room for negotiations on some provisions in the NDAA. The political game is afoot, dear reader, so let’s see what pieces are on the gameboard.


The Shot

The most significant piece on the NDAA board that could show some wiggle room for a win for Republicans is the COVID vaccine mandate for military members.

In a letter from 11 Senators headed up by Rand Paul from Kentucky, signatories advocated for a hard line on the NDAA to remove the mandate, stating:

“The Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccine mandate has ruined the livelihood of men and women who have honorably served our country.”

Over three thousand military members have been discharged for refusing the vaccine mandate, and lawsuits have been filed against the services for not reviewing religious exemptions appropriately.

In addition, Inspector General reports have indicated that these exemption requests were not given the appropriate scrutiny for approval or disapproval, instead receiving broad-stroke disapprovals affecting the careers of thousands.

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Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina said in a statement regarding the need to drop the mandate:

“The problem here is we’re having a dilemma we haven’t had in decades, and that’s finding enough people to serve in the military.”

He goes on to state:

“Our recruiting goals are way short, the conflicts in the world are getting worse, not better – we need more people in the military, not less.”

In a year that the military saw historically low recruitment levels, the Senator might have a point about relooking at reasons why we discharge desperately needed men and women.

The Rest

It’s not just the shot that has Republicans wanting to pump the brakes on the NDAA; woke policies getting shoved into the bill and woke policies already in place in the military establishment have the ire up in the GOP. Each month it seems the Pentagon gets caught advancing some new social policy that has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with the left-wing agenda.

In addition to the gender and race ideology I’ve reported on frequently, the left also attempts to use the military to push its climate agenda. Within this NDAA are provisions to mandate the Pentagon procure electric vehicles to replace the current fleet of vehicles in the military.

RELATED: Americans Are Fed Up With Woke Military Leadership: Poll Shows Less Than 50% Now Trust

For the record, last time I checked, there weren’t many EV charging stations in the war zones I frequented.

Further, the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision created quite a wave in this country to include in the military.

The GOP wasn’t too pleased when the Secretary of Defense approved travel costs for service members to get abortion services if they are stationed in a state that doesn’t allow for abortions, in addition to not having to take personal leave to get the procedure done. 


The NDAA is notorious for not just funding the military and laying out Pentagon policy, but also used as a tool to dump whatever the party in power wants to push through under the radar of the American people.

This current NDAA under review has over 900 amendments attached; how many of those amendments will get a thorough examination by our lawmakers? 

I would venture a big fat zero. As congressman Kevin McCarthy rightly said last month:

“I’ve watched what the Democrats have done on many of these things, especially in the NDAA – the ‘wokeism’ that they want to bring in there.”

Why does this happen? Because it’s easy to vilify the opposing party for holding up the NDAA, as to do so implies a lack of support for the military and defending our country. One such amendment this year is a provision to make women eligible for the draft. 

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Senator Tom Cotton said of this type of amendment:

“The Defense Bill isn’t the place for Democrats to indulge wild ideas of their latest social experiments, like forcing women to register for the draft.”

As a female veteran, I am all for making women register for the draft. However, the Senator is right; amendments like these dirty up the NDAA and should be reviewed as a stand-alone bill.

A Small Win, Significant Losses

The GOP might get the COVID vaccine mandate dropped from the NDAA. Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Adam Smith (D-WA) hinted at a possible compromise on this point, stating:

“…at this point in time, does it make sense to have that policy from August 2021? That is a discussion that I am open to and that we’re having.”

Representative McCarthy claims he will “secure lifting” the vaccine mandate or “the bill will not move.” We shall have to see if he can make good on this promise. 

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Meanwhile, the NDAA, roughly $840 billion, calls for a 4.6% pay raise for military members.

It sounds like a great deal until you compare that to the current inflation rate of 7.7%. So food stamps are still in the future for America’s finest.

It’s hard to argue that not passing the NDAA hurts the military when passing the NDAA hardly helps the military.

But I suppose it’s good that transgender women have to sign up for the draft, the Navy is learning about proper pronoun usage, and cadets are learning about white privilege. 

We’ll worry about paying our service members fair wages, modernizing our weapons procurement process, and making military enlistment appealing to young Americans later.

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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