Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., told Newsmax Friday that acting against about 40,000 National Guard members not vaccinated against COVID-19 in line with President Joe Biden’s mandate is "cutting our nose off to spite our face."
"We are literally cutting our nose to spite our face, and we're doing this all across the board, across our military departments in the time when really military readiness is paramount," Murphy said Friday during "Spicer & Co." "The Biden administration is just cutting our nose off to spite our face. It's tragic."
The U.S. Army said in a statement Friday that beginning today, members of the Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve who "refused to have the lawful Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccination order without an approved or pending exemption may not participate in federally funded drills and training and will not receive pay or retirement credit."
Those soldiers that do not have an exemption request submitted or pending could also face administrative disciplinary action such as "flags, bars to service and official reprimands."
"In the future, soldiers who continue to refuse the vaccination order without an exemption may be subject to additional adverse administrative action, including separation," the statement said.
Murphy said the move, impacting about 40,000 troops, or 13% of the Guard and Reserve’s force, could make it difficult for the units to react to disasters like hurricanes in various states.
"The sad thing is, and I'll say this myself here, I live in North Carolina. We have hurricanes," he said. "We rely on our National Guard for preparedness, or for, God forbid, after a hurricane to help individuals."
Minnesota's Duluth News Tribune reported June 29 that missing the vaccination requirement's Thursday deadline could force out 600 soldiers in that state alone.
"People are our greatest strength and the most valuable resource required to perform our mission," Lt. Col. Kristen Augé told the news outlet. "The Minnesota National Guard continues to work with service members who have reservations about the vaccination with dignity and respect."
According to the report, that state has a total of about 11,000 soldiers and 2,000 airmen.
Murphy said that most of those in the service are healthy, and there are more therapeutics now available after more than two years of COVID-19, making the vaccine less needed among the troops.
"If you go back to the beginning of the pandemic, it was that if a soldier, or Marine or sailor wasn't vaccinated, it could maybe impede mission readiness and we get that," Murphy said. "But here we are 2.5 years later, and we have known population that is healthy. They are healthy individuals that their likelihood of severe disease is exceedingly low."
He said that most of those who have not gotten the vaccine are seeking religious exemptions.
"They just don't feel their faith won't push them through this," he said. "Some of them have seen some of the side effects. I'm pro-vaccine for certain individuals. I've always said from Day 1 this needs to be a discussion between a doctor and a patient, not a government and a citizen, and they don't feel that they want [to] risk side effects.”
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