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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo (both R-Idaho) joined Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and 11 of their colleagues in introducing the Allowing Military Exemptions, Recognizing Individual Concerns About New Shots (AMERICANS) Act of 2022. The legislation counters the Biden Administration’s efforts to coerce and punish servicemembers who decline the COVID-19 vaccine, and introduces accountability measures in response to U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) efforts to undermine transparency.

“Our service men and women, who serve to defend our democracy and individual liberties, should not be punished for their individual health decisions,” said Risch. “The Department of Defense must recognize the merit and service of our military rather than their vaccination status.”

 “A one-size-fits-all COVID-19 vaccine mandate is no way to thank the women and men of our Armed Forces for their service,” said Crapo. “The DOD should be seeking ways to retain servicemembers, not discharge them for politically-motivated reasons.”

This bill would:

  • Require the Secretary of Defense to make every effort to retain unvaccinated servicemembers;
  • Strengthen language to ensure servicemembers receive discharge classifications commensurate with their record of service;
  • Require the DOD to report the number and type of COVID-19 vaccine religious exemptions that have been denied; and
  • Create an exemption from COVID-19 vaccine requirements for service members with natural immunity.

The measure would also protect service academy students and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) members in the same way.

The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Rand Paul (R-Ken.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).

Last week, Senators Risch and Crapo sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin raising concerns about the number and nature of military discharges for not receiving a COVID vaccine.

Read the bill here.

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