Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Thursday to note that his state will not impose the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on members of the Texas National Guard.
The State of Texas will NOT impose the Biden Administration’s #COVID19 vaccine mandate on members of the Texas National Guard.
Read more ⬇️ https://t.co/eYUvo9jgei
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) December 16, 2021
Abbott sent the letter after Austin threatened to end federal funding for unvaccinated Guard members in November.
In August, Abbott signed an executive order that prohibited “governmental entities” in Texas from enforcing vaccine mandates.
In October, Abbott ordered Texas Adjutant General Tracy Norris not to punish Texas Guard personnel who chose not to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
“As Governor of Texas, I am the commander-in-chief of this State’s militia,” Abbott wrote in his letter to Austin.
“This willingness to hollow out the National Guard is unconscionable in the face of growing global threats and a border crisis created by the Biden Administration,” he added in the letter.
Abbott concluded with the note that he will “deploy every legal tool available” to defend Guard members.
“The State of Texas will not enforce this latest COVID-19 vaccine mandate against its guardsmen. If the federal government keeps threatening to defund the Texas National Guard, I will deploy every legal tool available to me as Governor in defense of these American heroes,” the governor wrote.
Abbott’s letter follows a similar letter sent on Wednesday by a group of five GOP governors to Austin that called for an end to 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.
On December 2, Oklahoma Republican Gov. 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.
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