Hoeven Helps Introduce Legislation to Push Back on Biden Administration's Vaccine Mandate for Military Cadets

Bill Would Protect Air Force Cadets, Midshipmen from Being Punished for Not Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven helped introduce the Defending Freedom of Conscience for Cadets and Midshipmen Act, legislation led by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) that would protect cadets and midshipmen at the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA), U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy from being punished for their choice to not receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The USAFA recently announced that unvaccinated seniors would not be commissioned. Cadets and midshipmen who do not commission could be forced to repay tuition, room, and board expenses for their time at the Academy.

“The Biden administration continues to push punitive mandates, including on our servicemembers and those aspiring to join our Armed Forces,” said Hoeven. “This policy risks serious impacts on academy cadets, and we continue working to block federal overreach like this.” 

Specifically, the Defending Freedom of Conscience for Cadets and Midshipmen Act would:  

  • Clarify that cadets and midshipmen cannot be denied graduation for not being vaccinated against COVID-19;
  • Prevent cadets and midshipmen from being dismissed from their service academy as a result of refusing to be vaccinated (i.e. for disciplinary reasons for refusing the order to be vaccinated); and
  • Prevent any cadet who is not allowed to commission due to their COVID-19 vaccination status from being subject to repayment claims.

In addition to Hoeven and Rubio, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Roger Marshall (R-KS), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Braun (R-IN), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Rick Scott (R-FL), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Steve Daines (R-MT). U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) will introduce companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.