Governors Challenge Vaccine Mandates for National Guard

Governors Challenge Vaccine Mandates for National Guard

( – On August 24, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a memorandum ordering COVID-19 vaccinations for all active-duty members of the Department of Defense (DOD), including National Guard members. However, several Republican governors are challenging the mandate.

Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, kicked off the wave of challenges. On November 2, he submitted a letter to Sec. Austin, asking him to suspend the vaccine mandate for Oklahoma National Guard members. On December 2, Gov. Stitt announced his decision to sue the DOD to block enforcement of the vaccine mandate on Oklahoma National Guard members.

Defense Department press secretary John Kirby addressed the issue of National Guard vaccine mandates during a November 15 press conference. According to Kirby, the secretary of defense has the legal authority to issue the directive since National Guard members receive federal funding for their monthly training.

Since then, several other Republican governors have submitted requests to the DOD asking it to rescind the vaccine mandates. Most recently, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) sent a letter to Sec. Austin on December 16, reaffirming the state’s intention to defy his order. As Abbott explained, he serves as the commander-in-chief of the Texas militia, and his October 4 executive order prohibiting vaccine mandates by any government agency in Texas applies to Texas National Guard members.

Gov. Abbott also advised that he would use all available legal remedies to enforce his executive order and protect National Guard members from the federal mandate.

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