The Pentagon is pushing back against some Republican governors who have said they will not cooperate with the military's mandate that all service members, including national guard members, be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, The Hill reports.
In announcing the move earlier this year, Pentagon brass said vaccinations were necessary as a part of military readiness and allowed each branch to set its own deadline for compliance. Most branches set November and December deadlines, but the Army National Guard and Reserve held off until June 30, 2022.
Still, several GOP governors argued that they would not enforce the mandate. The first to make that argument was Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who requested Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to exempt his state from the order. Austin declined the request and the state sued.
The mandate is unconstitutional, according to the lawsuit, since the states' governors are in charge of the units except for times they have been federalized. Plus, national security will be at risk, since a large number of members will simply quit rather than comply.
Austin says that even though governors are in charge of guard units when they have not been federalized by the president, they are still paid by the federal government, and could lose their pay if they don't comply.
But even that could be difficult. If governors don't order records kept of who has and has not been vaccinated, the Pentagon won't know whose pay to cut. Austin said superiors, whose job it is to carry out the orders, could be punished.
Republican governors Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Mike Dunleavy of Alaska, Tate Reeves of Mississippi and Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, along with Stitt sent Austin a letter on Dec. 14 saying that the mandates are "beyond your constitutional and statutory authority."
Another GOP governor, Greg Abbott of Texas, later said that Texas "will not enforce this latest COVID-19 vaccine mandate against its guardsmen."
Several members of the other branches of the milatary already have been discharged for failing to comply with the order.
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