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Lankford Secures an End to COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Military Members, Funding for Tulsa VA Construction in Defense Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – Among many priorities secured for Oklahoma’s military installations, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today highlighted two major overall wins for Oklahoma service members and veterans and for the nation in the Fiscal Year 2023 James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act (FY23 NDAA), otherwise known as the “defense bill.” Lankford secured language to roll back the existing COVID-19 vaccine mandate for military service members in all branches of service. Lankford also secured a win for the Tulsa VA Medical Center, which is currently under construction. Lankford’s language, from his CHIP-IN Improvement Act of 2022, which unanimously passed the Senate in September, would simply allow the VA to use existing funds to offset inflation to build a 275,000-square-foot, 58-bed medical-surgical hospital in Tulsa, which is set to be complete in late 2023 and open for patients in late 2024.

“In addition to many high priority wins I secured for Oklahoma’s military installations and service members, these are two amendments we worked to get included in the defense bill to protect our service members from Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate and to ensure construction of the Tulsa VA Medical Center, so it can keep moving forward despite Biden’s high inflation driving up the costs,” said Lankford. “I have pushed for these amendments as separate bills, but inclusion in the defense bill, which bears the name of Oklahoma’s senior Senator Jim Inhofe, ensures they move forward along with numerous other provisions to support our Armed Forces and their missions.”

Amendment Details

  • Lankford’s amendment to rescind the COVID-19 vaccine mandate appears in Section 525 (page 407) of the FY23 NDAA.
    • RESCISSION OF COVID-19 VACCINATION MANDATE. Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall rescind the mandate that members of the Armed Forces be vaccinated against COVID-19 pursuant to the memorandum dated August 24, 2021, regarding ‘‘Mandatory  Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination of Department of Defense Service Members’’.
  • Lankford’s amendment regarding unobligated CHIP-IN funds for the construction of the Tulsa VA Medical Center appears in Section 5125 (page 1882-1887) of the FY23 NDAA.
    • The language Lankford introduced as a stand-alone bill was fully included and can be viewed HERE.