Legislation that would allocate $858 billion to national defense funding and rescind the U.S. military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate passed the House on Thursday with a final vote of 350 to 80.
The legislation, the National Defense Authorization Act, will now head to the Senate before landing on President Joe Biden’s desk.
The legislation authorizes $817 billion specifically for the Department of Defense and includes numerous policy provisions, like authorization for a 4.6% pay raise for military service members.
Other provisions would look to strengthen the nation’s air power, land warfare defenses, and cybersecurity. The most hot topic provision would remove the current COVID vaccine mandate for military members.
House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy shared in a statement on Tuesday night that “the end of President Biden’s military COVID vaccine mandate is a victory for our military and for common sense.”
There has been no word from the Biden administration on whether or not the president will sign the bill with the provision included.
National Security Council coordinator John Kirby said during a press conference on Wednesday that removing the mandate would be a “mistake.”
“Making sure our troops are ready to defend this country and prepared to do so that remains the President’s priority, and the vaccine requirement for Covid does just that,” Kirby said.
Democrats shared that including the provision was necessary in order to get it passed, as their counterparts across the aisle were adamant that it be included.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer shared on Monday that the chamber could have the defense bill on the floor “as soon as next week.”