Senate sends Biden military bill that would lift Covid vaccine mandate for troops and authorize more Ukraine funding

The $858 billion legislation would allow for more security spending on Ukraine and Taiwan and authorize a 4.6% pay increase for U.S. troops.

The Senate on Thursday passed a massive military policy bill that would direct the Defense Department to lift a Covid vaccine 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 a 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 authorizes funding for Taiwan and Ukraine and a 4.6% pay increase for troops. It also would do away with the military vaccine mandate, a Republican priority. Democratic leaders allowed for the new Covid language in an effort to ensure timely passage of the bill.

A GOP-backed amendment that pushed for scrapping the vaccine 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 for authorizing energy and infrastructure projects, known as permitting reform to the the authorization bill. It also fell short of the 60-vote threshold.

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