The annual approval of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is currently up for consideration by Congress, and U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) is accusing Democratic lawmakers of delaying the bill to make a political point.
The final text of the NDAA, which authorizes national defense spending for fiscal year 2023, was released by the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday evening.
According to Tuberville, the U.S. House is likely to vote on the NDAA this week, and the U.S. Senate will vote on it next week, should it pass.
The NDAA has been swirling around the legislature since June, and Tuberville is accusing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) of attempting to hold up the bill for political expediency.
"We've passed an NDAA bill every year for the past 61 years in a row," Tuberville said in a press conference. "Since the Senate Armed Services Committee passed this bill back in June, we have warned Democrats not to delay the passage of this bill. Waiting till the last minute to pass the NDAA is unacceptable, and this is the second time Sen. [Chuck] Schumer has played politics with our military funding."
The controversy behind this NDAA comes in a provision that would remove the current COVID-19 vaccination requirement imposed on servicemembers across all branches of the military.
Tuberville worked in tandem with 10 other members of the Senate to ensure the inclusion of the measure in this most recent version of the NDAA.
"Thankfully, language to end the mandate is included in the NDAA that was released last night from the House," Tuberville said. "We owe our military leaders and the American people the certainty of a fully funded Department of Defense and military services at full strength."
Tuberville said he does not want further delays for Democrats to "tack on their liberal priorities," but reports are that House Democrats have no plan to oppose the vaccine measure.
"The Biden administration has also been playing games with the size and strength of our armed forces for months," Tuberville continued. "Thousands of servicemembers have been fired for not taking the COVID-19 vaccine. At a time when our military already faces a recruiting crisis, it is dangerous to shrink the size of our military to make a political point about the vaccine."
Some Republican lawmakers have said removing the mandate does not go far enough and that fired servicemembers should be reinstated to their former positions.
"The repair has to be reinstating individuals who want to come back, correcting their records, allowing these individuals who have served honorably to be recognized that way," U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif) said.
Tuberville was joined by U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Joni Ernst (R- Iowa), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) in forwarding repealing the Vaccine mandate.
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