The vaccine mandate became a centerpiece of recent negotiations after Republicans threatened to prevent passage of the annual defense authorization bill as a standalone measure if the measure was not stripped from it. Congress has maintained the tradition of passing a bill to authorize defense spending for six decades running, even as it has dropped the ball on authorizing other parts of the federal budget.
The move appears to undercut what Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had been advocating for.
“Secretary Austin supports maintaining the vaccine mandate,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said in a statement on Monday. “The health and readiness of our forces is critical to our warfighting capability and a top priority.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.