WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) is among 13 Senators who today informed leadership that they will oppose moving forward with the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), unless the Senate votes on an amendment to prohibit discharges from the Armed Forces solely because of COVID-19 vaccination status.

The notice was delivered in a letter to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Republican Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).  The Senate could attempt to proceed to the NDAA as early as next week.

“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 readiness of our force, and the policy must be revoked,” the Senators wrote.  

“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 to remedy a policy that adversely affects our service members and our national security,” the lawmakers continued.

The amendment advocated by the Senators would also reinstate service members already discharged, with back pay.  As of April 2022, approximately 3,400 troops have been discharged from the military for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The letter also faults the Biden administration’s military vaccine mandate for wasting significant recruitment and training costs, and contributing to missed recruitment targets.  Military recruitment is reportedly down 23 percent from annual targets.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) led the letter, which was also signed by Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).

Read the full letter here.