A group of five GOP governors sent a letter on Tuesday to challenge Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to end the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for National Guard members.
The letter focused on the rights of personnel, arguing that the requirement is beyond the department’s constitutional authority.
“We acknowledge your right to establish readiness standards for the National Guard for activation into a Title 10 status,” the letter said.
“However, directives dictating whether training in a Title 32 status can occur, setting punishment requirements for refusing to be COVID-19 vaccinated, and requiring separation from each state National Guard if unvaccinated are beyond your constitutional and statutory authority,” it added.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts were the Republicans included as signers of the letter.
“The federal government continues to overreach further into the lives of Americans and especially those serving our country and protecting our very freedoms,” Reynolds said in a statement.
“These are the very men and women who have selflessly devoted their lives to protecting us and responding to major disasters and times of crisis at the drop of a hat to provide peace and comfort, and now the federal government is giving them an ultimatum to get the vaccine or be separated from serving their country.”
“It’s unconscionable to think the government will go so far as to strip these honorable men and women of the nation’s top duties if they don’t comply. They protect the very freedoms that the federal government apparently doesn’t believe they too deserve,” she continued.
The vaccine mandate encompasses approximately 440,000 soldiers and airmen in the National Guard.
On December 2, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration to stop the vaccine requirement for National Guard members in his state.
“Therefore, unless mobilized by the President of the United States under U.S. Code Title10, I retain the authority for all training and governance of the Oklahoma National Guard – including determining if and how training guidelines issued by the president will be implemented,” Stitt said in a statement.
“This week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin declared his intention to proceed with unconstitutional punishment that individually targets Oklahoma National Guard soldiers and airmen, including withholding their pay,” the governor added.
The Daily Wire reported on December 1:
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that members of the Army National Guard who refuse to comply with the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate would be prohibited from undergoing the required training and drills they need to maintain their status as Guardsmen.
In an internal memo to leaders of the armed forces, according to the Associated Press, Austin spelled out the new policy, directing leaders of the four service branches to publish guidance dealing with men and women serving in the National Guard who refuse the vaccine. “Vaccination is essential to the health and readiness of the force,” Austin said.
The vaccine requirement is part of the military’s medical readiness requirements, the AP reported. All members of the armed services are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they receive an exemption for medical or other reasons.
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