President Joe Biden is opposing a Republican-led effort to repeal the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate for U.S. soldiers.
Speaking at a press conference Monday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that both Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are against the repeal of the mandate.
“Secretary Austin’s been very clear that he opposes the repeal of the vaccine mandate, and the president actually concurs with the secretary of defense,” Kirby said, Bloomberg reported, adding that the U.S. president “continues to believe that all Americans, including those in the armed forces, should be vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19.”
Biden’s position on the matter stands in direct contrast to his stated position ahead of the 2020 election, in which he said that he opposed any vaccine mandates.
Kirby added that Biden believes “vaccines are saving lives including our men and women in uniform.”
A Republican-led push to repeal the vaccine mandate is being spearheaded by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who told Fox News that the repeal would be added in the fiscal 2023 Pentagon policy bill, which will be unveiled this week.
Without the repeal, “the bill will not move,” McCarthy vowed. “This is the first sign of having divided government.”
McCarthy told the network that he spoke with Biden at the White House last week about the push to repeal the mandate, as well as Sec. Austin on Saturday.
McCarthy’s repeal of the vaccine mandate has received support from Senate Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, who released a letter last week with other GOP lawmakers who said they would oppose moving forward on the defense policy bill without a vote on an amendment to stop the Department of Defense from discharging unvaccinated service members, and reinstate those already discharged with back pay.