The Biden administration is still pushing COVID-19 vaccine mandates almost three years after the outbreak of the pandemic. House conservatives are now preparing for a fight over those mandates starting from the position of a possible 2023 GOP majority.
House Freedom Caucus plans to make this fight a central issue, particularly the military mandate. Members pledge to use their influence over must-pass bills to pressure President Biden, Democrats, and their own party leadership.
Scott Perry, R-Pa. House Freedom Caucus Chair, stated that “in every single spending fight, which will be many,… the vaccine mandate… will become a key issue of negotiation.” Fox News Digital.
Perry stated that he believes the mandate for military vaccinations is a matter of national security due to declining numbers. Perry criticized the Department of Defense over allegedly failing to handle religious exemption requests in good-fait.
Rep. Lauren Boebert stated, “Punishing our amazing service members because they refused to take an unproven experimental vaccine was completely wrong.” Fox News Digital was informed by R-Colo. “The majority of conservatives will make it their priority to eliminate federal COVID vaccine mandates and reinstate these brave men or women and ensure that they are made whole.”
Ronny Jackson (Republican from Texas) said that he believes the military mandate to be particularly inhumane because it is dominated by young healthy people. He asked Congress to fight for “back pay” or “active duty jobs” for anyone who was discharged due to the vaccine mandate.
According to a House GOP source, Republicans including the leadership will seek to use funding bills or mechanisms such as the National Defense Authorization Act to repeal vaccine mandates. The source stated that this will go along with aggressive investigations of entities such as the CDC regarding their COVID response.
The GOP leadership source indicated that such efforts might be more successful if there is a GOP Senate that can shift political pressure towards the Biden administration in case of a funding dispute. The source stated that Republicans may not be able to go far if it comes down to things like border patrol operations or military salaries.
“That’s straight up bulls —,” Roy.” “Don’t let the Republican leadership hide behind the border patrol, military, and police to claim we must write a blank check to the bulls— attacking American citizens.”
The margin of a House GOP Majority may determine how much leverage Freedom Caucus members such as Roy have in 2023, or how leeway top Republicans have to try and push through funding bills that are over their objections.
James Wallner, a senior R Street Institute fellow for governance, said that such debate was healthy for both the party and for the country.
He said, “You need to have the Freedom Caucus pushing and holding the leadership to the fire.” The leadership is needed to form coalitions and get people who aren’t always on the same page to join you in obtaining those votes.
Although November’s elections are still months away, political headwinds seem to be shifting in the Democrats’ favor.
Most political observers think Republicans are strong candidates to retake the House in a time of recession and inflation. This could lead to a showdown between House conservatives, and their leadership.