Senator Cramer and colleagues introduce bill to protect Air Force Cadets and Midshipmen from penalties for not receiving COVID-19 vaccine

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to introduce the Cadet Freedom of Conscience Defense Act and aspirants. The legislation would protect cadets and midshipmen of the US Air Force Academy (USAFA), US Naval Academy, US Military Academy, US Coast Guard Academy and US Merchant Marine Academy from penalties for their choice not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. USAFA recently announced that unvaccinated seniors would not be mandated. Cadets and midshipmen who are not commissioned may be required to reimburse tuition, room and board for their stay at the Academy.

“Forcing our brave young men and women who are preparing to serve our nation to violate their conscience and their religious beliefs is ridiculous and totally un-American. Military academies should focus on training their cadets and midshipmen, not impose top-down COVID-19 vaccination mandates,” said Senator Cramer.

“It is outrageous to punish young men and women who want nothing more than to serve their nation,” said Senator Rubio. “These are the kinds of ridiculous and unnecessarily punitive measures that discourage patriotic Americans from joining the military. The Academy should stop playing politics and focus on preparing cadets and midshipmen for their future service.”

Specifically, the Cadet and Midshipman Freedom of Conscience Defending Act:

  • Clarifies that Cadets and Midshipmen cannot be denied graduation for not being vaccinated against COVID-19;
  • Prevents cadets and midshipmen from being expelled from their military academy for refusing to be vaccinated (i.e. for disciplinary reasons for refusing an order to be vaccinated); and
  • Prevents any cadet who is ineligible to commission due to their COVID-19 vaccination status from being subject to reimbursement requests.

Senators Cramer and Rubio were joined by Senators Roger Marshall (R-KS), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Braun (R-IN), Ron Johnson (R-WI) , Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Rick Scott (R-FL) and Steve Daines (R-MT).

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