White House calls vaccine mandate reversal ‘mistake’ but won’t promise NDAA veto

Bruce Reed, Karine Jean-Pierre
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre would not say Wednesday if President Joe Biden would veto the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023 after lawmakers included a provision that would repeal the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for service members. Andrew Harnik/AP

White House calls vaccine mandate reversal ‘mistake’ but won’t promise NDAA veto

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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre would not say Wednesday if President Joe Biden would veto the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2023 after lawmakers included a provision that would repeal the administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for service members.

Jean-Pierre faced a question on the topic at the top of Wednesday’s briefing but said the president would wait to judge the bill “in its entirety” once it moves through the legislative process.

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“I don’t want to get ahead of the process. As we know, there’s the conference language. There’s still the legislative process that has to move ahead on this,” she responded. “I’m not going to get ahead of the vote, or I’m not going to get ahead of the president.”

“What we saw happen on the NDAA as it relates to the vaccine mandate, making sure our troops are prepared and ready for service is a priority,” she continued. “For President Biden, the vaccination requirement for COVID does just that.”

Jean-Pierre added that, prior to Biden’s mandate going into effect, “nearly 700 Department of Defense personnel and service members died of COVID,” including “almost 100” on active duty.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby voiced similar concerns over the NDAA earlier Wednesday morning.

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“We continue to believe that repealing the vaccine mandate is a mistake. Making sure our troops are ready to defend this country and prepared to do so remains the president’s priority and the vaccine requirement for COVID does just that,” he told reporters. “Republicans in Congress have obviously decided that they’d rather fight against the health and well-being of those troops, rather than protecting them.”

You can watch Wednesday’s briefing in full below.

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