GOP governors challenge Pentagon’s National Guard vaccine mandate

Texas governor Greg Abbott told Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that his state will not tell its National Guard members to comply with the military COVID vaccine mandate.

According to The Associated Press, Governor Abbott told the Texas National Guard that they were included in his executive order that would ban the government from mandating the vaccine.

Five other GOP governors have urged Austin to reconsider the requirements for National Guard members. Oklahoma’s governor has sued the Defense Department, and Abbot hinted that Texas may follow suit. “If unvaccinated guardsmen suffer any adverse consequences within the State of Texas, they will have only President Biden and his Administration to blame,” the Texas governor said.

Austin has decided that Guard members who refuse their vaccine will be unable to maintain their status as an active member of the National Guard. Thousands of military personnel have been seeking exemptions from the vaccine mandate. Despite this, 98% of active duty Army members have been vaccinated.

There are currently over 1,000 National Guard members stationed along the U.S./Texas-Mexico border whom Abbott has given power to to arrest migrants on trespassing charges. Texas’s National Guard contains nearly 200,000 members.

Secretary Austin has threatened to cut off federal funding for unvaccinated guardsmen in the last month. In response, Gov. Abbott has asked Texas Adjutant General Tracy Norris to void punishments for unvaccinated guardsmen.

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