Rep. Brian Harrison, R-Texas, told Newsmax on Monday he is pleased the Pentagon is ending its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for service members but believes the government should go a step further.
"I commend them for finally dropping [the mandate] at the Pentagon," Harrison, former chief of staff at the Department of Health and Human Services in the Trump administration, said on "American Agenda."
"We can't lose sight of the fact that another cabinet agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, still as we speak, even as they're detecting a safety signal with the Pfizer bivalent vaccine, they're still enforcing nationwide a vaccine mandate on hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers in America.
"That needs to stop, too."
Harrison referenced news the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 vaccine database uncovered a possible safety issue in which people 65 and older were more likely to have an ischemic stroke 21 days after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent shot, compared with days 22 through 44. An ischemic stroke is caused by blockages in arteries that carry blood to the brain.
Harrison said under Operation Warp Speed — the Trump administration program jointly run by the Pentagon and the HHS department to quickly develop a COVID-19 vaccine during the first year of the pandemic — it was never intended to be a gateway to mandates.
"It was supposed to be a voluntary program," Harrison said. "Get these vaccines out there as a tool in the hands of doctors and patients that every individual patient with their unique needs could be evaluated and to determine what therapeutic or vaccine or what course of treatment was best for them.
"That program was never supposed to be perverted from a program designed to save lives to want to destroy liberty, and that's what happened the second they mandated these vaccines."
Although Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in his memo canceling the vaccine mandate that 96% of service members, active and reserve, have been vaccinated, Harrison said he is hopeful Congress can pressure the Biden administration and the Pentagon to reinstate service members who were discharged for not getting vaccinated.
"We've lost some of the bravest and most patriotic service men and women that our nation had, and for no reason," Harrison said. "It's heartbreaking, and I do hope that Republicans, now that they have taken over the House of Representatives, apply the most pressure possible to the Biden administration so that whatever we can do to bring back these brave, heroic men and women who wanted nothing more than to serve their nation."
Last Wednesday, Rep. Bob Mast, R-Fla., introduced the Vaccine Mandate Reenlistment Act, which would ensure any of the estimated 8,100 service members who were discharged for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine would be able to rejoin the military at their rank and pay grade before their discharge.
"While repealing the unconstitutional COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the military was a step in the right direction, we should finish what we started and give every servicemember discharged for exercising his or her right to medical freedom an opportunity to return to the military," Mast said in a news release.
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