Senator Lankford slams the Biden administration for prioritizing ‘woke obsession’


Sen. James Lankford is criticizing the Biden administration for prioritizing a ‘woke‘ agenda over protecting Americans’ First Amendment freedoms and is pledging to reinstate service members who were fired for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine due to religious objections.

Since the Biden administration enacted a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine on troops in August 2021, over 8,000 service members have been fired for refusing the shot, many of whom sought religious or medical accommodations. 

After outrage by Congress, the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed into law by President Biden last year, terminated his own vaccine mandate, but it did not reinstate service members who were fired for not receiving the shot

Lankford, R-Okla., told DailyMail.com during an exclusive interview Tuesday that he plans to prioritize getting fired troops back into the military and ensuring the Biden administration doesn’t further retaliate against religious service members.

Staff Sgt. Travis Snyder, left, receives the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Staff Sgt. Travis Snyder, left, receives the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Sen. James Lankford is criticizing the Biden administration for prioritizing a 'woke' agenda over protecting Americans' First Amendment freedoms

Sen. James Lankford is criticizing the Biden administration for prioritizing a ‘woke’ agenda over protecting Americans’ First Amendment freedoms

The senator from Oklahoma said that he has heard from terminated service members who say they ‘want the ability to come back’ into the military’s fold. 

‘Many of these folks are generational individuals –  their parents served in the military, their grandparents served in the military, they planned to serve their whole career in the military and pass it on to their kids. And instead, because of their religious beliefs, they were pushed out of the military,’ Lankford told DailyMail.com.

He called it ‘obviously traumatic’ for them, and also a ‘shock’ because for generations, their families had been able to both live out their faith and serve in the military.

Now, you have a situation where ‘you’re fighting for other people to have the First Amendment, but you can’t have First Amendment protections,’ he said, which turns the Constitution on its head. 

‘They want the ability to be able to rejoin the military and to be able to finish their long and distinguished career. Individuals that literally had no other mark against their entire record in the military, other than you didn’t believe what President Biden did about the vaccine.’

‘Because your belief is not consistent with the president’s you can’t stay based on a religious belief that that just doesn’t align with where we are,’ he said.

The GOP senator pointed to other religious accommodations the military accepts including beard length for Muslims, and allowing individuals allowed to pray at certain times of the day.

‘All those things have been protected and can and should be protected still,’ he added.

‘So first things first, we’ve got to get those folks with the ability back to be able to rejoin the military. 

The Republican-led House Armed Services Committee passed a series of amendments last week during the markup for the Fiscal Year 2024 NDAA that would ‘offer redress’ to service members who were ‘unjustly discharged’ by requiring the Pentagon to set up a reinstatement process and ensuring no negative retaliation.

However, some troops have told DailyMail.com that those amendments ‘don’t go far enough’ and do not remedy all issues. 

According to several active-duty service members, the amendments ‘won’t make up for the lost career opportunities’ that many troops endured, including not being able to deploy or get necessary training to rise in the military’s ranks. 

In addition, service members have told DailyMail.com that the military is making it extremely difficult for fired troops to re-apply through the normal process to get back their former positions due to a two-year delay in changing their discharge status from ‘general’ to ‘honorable’ in order to begin the process. 

In addition, thousands of service members who sat in limbo for years waiting to get an answer on their religious accommodation requests were not promoted during that time period, did not get transferred to other bases, and weren’t able to fly – which put them at a huge disadvantage.

Lankford acknowledged that, saying Congress must make sure that the troops still within the military who were seeking accommodations won’t be retaliated against with further ‘consequences’ and can serve a long and distinguished career. 

The military tried to ‘strong-arm them to give up on their religious belief,’ said Lankford.

They need ‘to be able to continue their career uninterrupted and unpunished based on their religious beliefs,’ said the senator, who plans to speak with service members who have concerns about the proposed House NDAA amendments.

Lankford said there is an ‘obsession’ in the military and within every Biden administration agency and U.S. embassies on pushing a ‘woke’ agenda to the detriment of military readiness.

‘The obsession of this administration is that they have a social cultural agenda,’ he said. 

‘This administration has been absolutely obsessed with trying to be able to push transgender rights and to be able to elevate those rights over the rights of every other person. And then also trying to be able to push abortion in every place they possibly can.’

The issue is especially bad in the military, continued Lankford, adding that the Biden administration has been actively looking for ways to encourage ‘any conservative’ or ‘any person with a religious belief that’s in the military out of the military.’

The Pentagon, with the support of military leaders and U.S. President Joe Biden, mandated COVID-19 vaccination for all military service members

The Pentagon, with the support of military leaders and U.S. President Joe Biden, mandated COVID-19 vaccination for all military service members

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin

Lankford has teamed up with other GOP senators to repeal the Pentagon's policy that would pay for all travel costs for service members and their dependents to obtain an abortion

Lankford has teamed up with other GOP senators to repeal the Pentagon’s policy that would pay for all travel costs for service members and their dependents to obtain an abortion

He called it ‘frustrating’ to see, especially as the Biden administration works to take money away from providing care to veterans in order to ‘encourage greater abortions in VA centers’ against federal law.

‘They’re paying for people to travel to get an abortion and giving them time off,’ which he says flies in the face of the military’s strict policies. 

‘That is incredibly inconsistent not only with federal law, but also in military policy,’ he continued. 

Lankford has teamed up with other GOP senators to repeal the Pentagon’s policy that would pay for all travel costs for service members and their dependents to obtain an abortion.

The bill led by Sen. Joni Ernst, who is the first female combat veteran senator, has the backing of the majority of the Senate’s Republican conference and is expected to be pushed to be included in the 2024 NDAA once it reaches the Senate. 

The House of Representatives still has to hold a full vote on the military amendment provisions and then send the bill text to the Senate, which will have to reconcile language before it can move on to final passage.



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