Preventative Medicine Services NCOIC Sergeant First Class Demetrius Roberson administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a soldier on September 9, 2021 in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Jon Cherry | Getty Images
The Senate passed a massive military policy bill Thursday that would direct the Defense Department to lift a Covid vaccination mandate for service members and authorize $858 billion in defense spending.
The National Defense Authorization Act, the annual bill that authorizes Pentagon spending and policies, cleared the Senate in an 83-11 vote. Five Republicans and six Democrats opposed the measure.
It passed the House in a 350-80 vote last week.
The legislation now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.
The bipartisan bill would authorize funding for Taiwan and Ukraine and a 4.6% pay increase for troops. It also would do away with the military vaccination mandate, a Republican priority. Democratic leaders allowed the new Covid language to ensure timely passage of the bill.
A GOP-backed amendment that pushed for scrapping the vaccination mandate immediately instead of waiting several weeks failed to meet the 60-vote threshold needed for adoption in the Senate.
A separate amendment, offered by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., sought to overhaul the process to authorize energy and infrastructure projects, known as permitting reform, in the authorization bill. It also fell short of the 60-vote threshold.