A group of 21 GOP governors joined a letter on Wednesday to congressional leaders in an effort to stop President Joe Biden from initiating a COVID vaccine mandate for military personnel.
The letter — sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Republican minority leaders in the House and Senate — called for immediate action concerning the military’s vaccine requirement.
“The Biden vaccine mandate on our military creates a national security risk that severely impacts our defense capabilities abroad and our state readiness here at home,” the Republican governors wrote.
“We face a two-front problem due to the Biden vaccine mandate: current servicemembers are leaving our ranks, and new recruits are not signing up to join. Implementation of the mandate has placed our nation’s military readiness at risk,” they added.
The letter cited concerns regarding National Guard recruiting efforts that had missed their mark as a major factor for the request. The Army National Guard missed its recruiting target by 10% and announced that 7,500 members left service in an October report cited in the letter.
Deputy Chief of the Army National Guard Strength Maintenance Division Anson Smith was also cited in the letter over the Guard reportedly preparing to discharge around 14,000 soldiers in the next two years for refusing the COVID vaccine.
The governors expressed further concern over a November report revealing that the Armed Forces discharged 8,000 active duty members since the start of the president’s COVID vaccine mandate.
“As Congressional leaders, it is your duty to provide for the national defense, and therefore, we call upon you to protect the men and women in uniform—who protect us—from an unnecessary vaccine mandate,” they concluded.
The letter was signed by the governors of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) celebrated the letter, adding her support to the effort.
“I’ve been leading the effort in the Senate to stop the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate,” she tweeted. “I will not stop fighting for our servicemembers.”
Thank you, @GovBillLee. I’ve been leading the effort in the Senate to stop the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate.
I will not stop fighting for our servicemembers. https://t.co/ANZuqgBj7J
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) November 30, 2022
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) also expressed his support, adding plans to include an end to the military COVID vaccine mandate as part of supporting the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
As a veteran & member of @SASCGOP, I fully support our military & have fought hard for big nat'l security wins in the NDAA. But, before this bill moves forward, we must stand with our military members & reverse the @DeptofDefense's COVID vax mandate. U.S. readiness depends on it. pic.twitter.com/DoRgn5cJZh
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) November 30, 2022
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) also pushed the end of the vaccine mandate ahead of the military’s next spending bill.
“The COVID-19 vaccine does not prevent transmission or infection of the virus. The DoD forcing out tens-of-thousands of service members will continue to undermine our military readiness and hamper future recruiting efforts for years to come,” he said in a letter with other House Republicans. “Our brave men and women in uniform should not have to choose between following their sincerely held religious beliefs and serving their country.”