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Rep. Carl: Securing our national defense

Every year for the past 60-something years, Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which lays out our nation’s defense priorities for the upcoming year.

I’ve written before about how important the NDAA is both for our district and for the United States, as a whole.

Last week, the House passed the final version of the Fiscal Year 2023 NDAA. It now heads back to the Senate before ultimately going to the President’s desk. The NDAA historically has bipartisan input and is a real team effort.

I’m especially proud of this year’s NDAA because my colleagues and I were able to secure several major victories, while eliminating numerous bad provisions in the bill. The win I’m most proud of is the repeal of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on active and reserve servicemembers.

The Secretary of Defense imposed this mandate in August 2021, which resulted in servicemembers being separated from service as well as making it tougher to recruit new servicemembers. This was a tough battle that we have been fighting for months, but the fight isn’t over.

We are now pushing the Department of Defense (DoD) to reinstate and provide full veterans’ benefits to servicemembers separated from service for simply refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.

We also fought hard to keep bad things out of this bill. This includes a push to force our daughters to register for the draft, to establish a gender advisory commission task force at the DoD, or to spend your tax dollars on climate change initiatives. These are just a few examples of the dozens of terrible things we stripped out of this bill.

This NDAA ensures our armed forces are fully funded to combat growing threats around the world, it gives our servicemembers a much-needed pay raise to combat inflation, and modernizes our military, all while cutting waste to save taxpayers billions of dollars.

RELATED: House-approved defense bill includes wins for Alabama

It’s no secret China’s military expansion and modernization is at an unprecedented rate. We absolutely cannot allow them to become the dominant world power, and that’s why we worked so hard to make sure our military has the best tools and equipment they need to keep the United States strong and ready to overcome any threats.

While no bill is perfect, I am thrilled the FY23 NDAA has passed the House. This is a win for Alabama and the United States of America.

Jerry Carl represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. He lives in Mobile with his wife Tina.

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