FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 24, 2023
Contact: Press_Paul@paul.senate.gov, 202-224-4343

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Recently, U.S. Senator Paul (R-KY) cosponsored the Allowing Military Exemptions, Recognizing Individual Concerns About New Shots (AMERICANS) Act of 2023, originally introduced by U.S. Senator Cruz (R-TX). The legislation builds off of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2023, which included language from legislation Cruz introduced last year to repeal the COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the Department of Defense and required a report on how DOD adjudicated service member’s requests for an exemption from the mandate on religious and other grounds.

The bill is also co-sponsored by Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), James Risch (R-Idaho), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Roger Marshall (R-Ks.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

A companion bill is being led by Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The updated AMERICANS Act introduced today includes measures not incorporated into the NDAA, including a requirement that the Secretary of Defense offer reinstatement to service members who were fired over the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

About the bill, Sen. Paul said:

“The COVID-19 vaccine mandate has ruined the livelihoods of men and women who have honorably served our country. This inept bureaucratic policy should have never been imposed, and while it has since been rolled back, we still have service members who have not been rehired, promoted, or received back pay and benefits. The AMERICANS Act will address these issues and others that the Biden administration has failed to consider at the expense of service members’ lives and our nation’s national security interests.”

Sen. Cruz said:

“Our military continues to feel the effects of the Biden administration’s reckless, misguided, and now-prohibited vaccine mandates. I’m glad that we were able to remove the COVID-19 vaccine mandate last Congress, but there is more work to do. The AMERICANS Act would correct the wrongs done to unvaccinated service members who were discharged for exercising their conscience.”

About the bill, Rep. Bishop said:

“While last year’s NDAA directed that SECDEF rescind the DOD's authoritarian COVID vaccine mandate, it didn’t prohibit the DOD from issuing a similar mandate in the future. The bill also didn’t provide any meaningful remedies for servicemembers who were kicked out due to the mandate. This is completely unacceptable. Sen. Cruz and my bill, the AMERICANS Act, will close these glaring loopholes and bring justice to military members who were purged by Secretary Austin's egregious vaccine mandate.”

The AMERICANS Act would:

Prohibit the Secretary of Defense from issuing any replacement COVID-19 vaccine mandate without Congressional approval; and

- Require the Department of Defense to:

  • Reinstate any service member separated solely for COVID-19 vaccine status who wants to return to service, crediting the service member with the time of involuntary separation for retirement pay calculations;
  • Restore the rank of any service member demoted solely for COVID-19 vaccine status, compensating the service member for any pay and benefits lost due to that demotion;
  • Adjust to “honorable” any “general” discharge given to a service member solely due to COVID-19 vaccine status;
  • Expunge from a service members’ record any adverse action based solely on COVID-19 vaccine status, regardless of whether the service member previously sought an accommodation;
  • Make every effort to retain service members not vaccinated against COVID-19, providing them with professional development, promotion, and leadership opportunities equal to that of their peers; and
  • Provide a COVID-19 vaccine exemption process for service members with natural immunity, a relevant underlying health condition, or a sincerely held religious belief inconsistent with being vaccinated.

Read the bill here.