Congress should remove and prohibit the "Biden Administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandate" on members of the military due to missed recruitment goals and current service members "leaving our ranks," according to a letter sent this week to congressional leaders from Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and 20 other Republican governors.
The 21 Republican governors ask in the letter for Congress to remove the military vaccine mandate either through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) currently being negotiated or a standalone bill.
Thirteen Republican U.S. Senators, including U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn), are threatening to delay the NDAA unless they get to vote on the military's vaccine mandate. Thirteen senators alone can't block the bill from passing, but they could delay the process as Congress aims to complete several major spending bills in December, according to Politico.
"The Biden vaccine mandate on our military creates a national security risk that severely impacts our defense capabilities abroad and our state readiness here at home," the GOP governors state in the letter. "We face a two-front problem due to the Biden vaccine mandate: current service members are leaving our ranks, and new recruits are not signing up to join. Implementation of the mandate has placed our nation's military readiness at risk."
The governors cite the following events as reasons for lifting the mandate:
• On October 8, 2022, U.S. Army National Guard Chief of Staff Major General Rich Baldwin explained that the National Guard missed its recruiting target by 10 percent and announced that 7,500 members left service.
• On September 21, 2022, Deputy Chief of the Army National Guard Strength Maintenance Division Anson Smith revealed that the National Guard was preparing to discharge approximately 14,000 soldiers in the next two years for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.
• On October 10, 2022, U.S. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth revealed that the Army failed its recruitment goal by 25 percent falling 15,000 recruits short of the target.
• As of November 15, 2022, the Armed Forces discharged 8,000 Active Duty members since the implementation of the Biden vaccine mandate.
Ivey and 20 GOP Governors state in the letter that "as Governors, our ability to respond to natural disasters and conduct emergency operations is contingent upon the strength and size of our National Guard units."
"As Congressional leaders, it is your duty to provide for the national defense, and therefore, we call upon you to protect the men and women in uniform—who protect us—from an unnecessary vaccine mandate," the letter states. "As President Biden, himself, stated on September 18, 2022, 'The pandemic is over.'"
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