House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said Sunday that the Biden administration will agree to his call for an end to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate in America’s military.
Vaccination against COVID-19 was made mandatory in an August 2021 memo from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. The mandate has drawn extensive opposition from Republican lawmakers.
McCarthy, who is seeking to become Speaker of the House when the new Congress convenes, said he has been in discussions with the Biden administration about ending the requirement.
“I had a meeting with the president,” McCarthy said on the Fox News show “Sunday Morning Futures.”
The subject, he said, was including an end to the vaccine mandate in the annual National Defense Authorization Act.
“We will secure lifting that vaccine mandate on our military,” he said. “Because what we’re finding out is they’re kicking out men and women that have been serving.”
He called removal of the vaccine requirement “the first victory of having the Republican majority.”
When host Maria Bartiromo asked if the requirement would definitely be removed, McCarthy replied, “Yes it will, otherwise the bill will not move.”
“I’ve been very clear with the president,” he said. “The president worked with me on this.”
McCarthy said that the change will also please many Democrats and noted that removing the requirement was a victory for bipartisanship and compromise.
“One-party rule would never allow that to go forward,” he said.
The Biden White House painted the conversations with McCarthy in a less-definite tone.
“Leader McCarthy raised this with the president, and the president told him he would consider it,” spokeswoman Olivia Dalton said in a statement, according to The Washington Post.
“The secretary of defense has recommended retaining the mandate, and the president supports his position. Discussions about the NDAA are ongoing.”
The Post report framed removing the mandate as one element among many issues being discussed en route to finding an agreement that can be passed.
The Post report also noted that later this month, a bill must be passed to keep the government operating and that next year legislation must be passed to raise the debt ceiling.
On Saturday, Austin said he has not changed his mind about the vaccine policy, according to The Hill.
“We lost a million people to this virus,” Austin said. “A million people died in the United States of America. We lost hundreds in DOD. So this mandate has kept people healthy.”
“I support continuation of vaccinating the troops,” he said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.