Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., is calling for the Senate Armed Services Committee to review the impact of President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates on national security.
Tuberville made his request in a Wednesday letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I.
"Thousands of small contractors for the Department of Defense face an excruciating choice in the coming weeks: fire employees who choose not to take the relatively new COVID vaccine or face the loss of contracts from the Pentagon," he said in the letter.
"This untenable position, playing out across the country, threatens our national security. Small business remains the backbone of American enterprise and the ingenuity machine in our competition with China. We cannot afford to slow them down.
"As such, I respectfully request a near-term hearing on the subject of vaccine compliance in the defense supply chain. I believe it would be especially helpful to hear from both expert witnesses within the Department of Defense on the current state of vaccine compliance and small business owners who have employees reluctant to take the new vaccine.
"Given the pressing nature of the mandate, the sooner our committee takes steps to hear out the American people on this issue, the better."
Reuters reported that the administration's COVID-19 vaccination deadline will not require immediate action on the part of employers against unvaccinated employees when it goes into effect on Dec. 8.
Comments from White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients suggest federal contractors employing millions of U.S. workers have significant flexibility in enforcing COVID-19 rules.
Zients said contractors will not be forced to immediately lay-off workers, but will be given time to educate and counsel staffers before potentially ending employment.
"We’re creating flexibility within the system … There is not a cliff here," Zients said. He stressed the goal is to get people vaccinated "not to punish them so we do not expect any disruptions."
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