5 Republican Governors Seek Vaccine Exemptions for National Guard Troops

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Politics|Five Republican governors question vaccine exemptions, escalating a combat with the Pentagon.


Members of the Wyoming National Guard astatine  the U.S. Capitol successful  Washington successful  February.
Credit...Jason Andrew for The New York Times

Jennifer Steinhauer

  • Dec. 15, 2021, 8:25 a.m. ET

Governors from 5 states person written a associated letter to Lloyd J. Austin III, the defence secretary, asking that their National Guard troops beryllium exempted from a national coronavirus vaccine mandate, greatly escalating what had been a azygous authorities struggle implicit inoculations.

“Setting punishment requirements for refusing to beryllium Covid-19 vaccinated, and requiring separation from each authorities National Guard if unvaccinated are beyond your law and statutory authority,” wrote the Republican governors of Alaska, Wyoming, Iowa, Mississippi and Nebraska to Mr. Austin, and asked that their states beryllium fixed an exemption from the requirement. The Pentagon has yet to respond to the letter, which was dated Tuesday.

Last month, the Defense Department rejected an effort by Kevin Stitt, the politician of Oklahoma, to exclude the state’s National Guard from the mandate, mounting the signifier for Guard members successful the authorities to suffer their jobs should they refuse. The section this week released a caller bid noting that each defender members who bash not get vaccinated volition person a wide bid of reprimand, which would fundamentally extremity their career.

Federal officials person said that governors person nary ineligible lasting to let Guard members to garbage the vaccine mandate. State officials and immoderate ineligible experts, however, judge that unless National Guard members are federally deployed, they are nether the jurisdiction of the politician of their authorities and truthful not taxable to national mandates.

Roughly 97 percent of the 1.3 cardinal active-duty work members successful the United States person had astatine slightest 1 dose of a vaccine, but the numbers are overmuch little for members of the Guard and Reserve.

Each work subdivision has a antithetic deadline for shots, and the Guard units volition not look theirs for months. By expanding the fig of states tangling with the department, the governors of the states that person mostly resisted vaccine mandates underscore the expanding politicization of the mandates successful a portion of authorities — the subject — wherever vaccine mandates are predominant and mostly without controversy.

The Air Force, with much than 325,000 progressive work members, was the archetypal to deed the deadline; a specified 27 airmen — each with little than six years of work — are the archetypal believed to person been fired implicit vaccine refusals, Pentagon officials said this week. The Army and Navy are expected to denote their numbers imminently.

The Defense Department has granted precise fewer exemptions from the mandate, different than to radical who were already leaving the subject oregon those who person aesculapian issues. So far, not a azygous work subordinate has been granted a spiritual exemption.

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