GOP lawmakers worry vaccine mandate will impact defense supply chain

GOP lawmakers worry vaccine mandate will impact defense supply chain
© Greg Nash

Nearly a dozen GOP members of the House Armed Services Committee on Friday pressed the Biden administration over the Pentagon’s looming COVID-19 vaccination deadline for defense contractors, claiming the mandate should be reconsidered or it might compromise supply chains. 

“We strongly urge you to reconsider the manner in which you are seeking to address this issue so as not to harm the livelihood of civilian contractors, industry partners, and strategic goals of our armed services,” the 11 lawmakers wrote to President BidenJoe BidenManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE and Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOklahoma sues to exempt National Guard from Pentagon vaccine mandate Overnight Defense & National Security — Quick vote on defense bill blocked again Marine Corps say 92 percent of active-duty service members vaccinated as deadline passes MORE.

“Those who adamantly refuse the vaccine will accept termination. We will lose critical experience in skilled labor. We will lose opportunities for mentorship and on-the-job training from veteran craftsmen. In the long-term, we will miss quality control standards. We will face endemic cost overruns and rework as decades of lessons are not passed to the next generation,” they wrote.

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Lawmakers who signed the letter were committee ranking member Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersBiden administration resists tougher Russia sanctions in Congress Senior-level engagement with Russia is good — if it's realistic It's time to overhaul the antiquated and unbalanced military justice system MORE (R-Ala.) as well as Republican Reps. Rob WittmanRobert (Rob) Joseph WittmanOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan GOP lawmakers worry vaccine mandate will impact defense supply chain Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Navy probe reveals disastrous ship fire response MORE (Va.), Vicky HartzlerVicky Jo HartzlerFive takeaways: House passes Biden's sweeping benefits bill Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan GOP lawmakers worry vaccine mandate will impact defense supply chain MORE (Mo.), Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikGOP beginning to jockey for post-election leadership slots Mace fires back at Greene: 'Bat---- crazy' Republicans eager to take on Spanberger in Virginia MORE (N.Y.), Joe WilsonAddison (Joe) Graves WilsonOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan GOP lawmakers worry vaccine mandate will impact defense supply chain Pandora Papers prompt lawmakers to push for crackdown on financial 'enablers' MORE (S.C.), Blake Moore (Utah), Doug LambornDouglas (Doug) LambornOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan GOP lawmakers worry vaccine mandate will impact defense supply chain Defense & National Security — The mental scars of Afghanistan MORE (Colo.), Jack Bergman (Mich.), Scott DesJarlais (Tenn.), Bill PoseyWilliam (Bill) Joseph PoseyOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan GOP lawmakers worry vaccine mandate will impact defense supply chain Lawmakers call on Biden to put billion toward coastal restoration MORE (Fla.) and Jerry Carl (Ala.).

Austin in late August ordered all service members and defense personnel to “immediately begin” getting the coronavirus vaccine, leaving it to the individual military services to decide when to set deadlines for the inoculation.

Defense Department contractors need to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8 or risk being fired, as laid out under guidance the Biden administration released for federal contractors and subcontractors in September.

In their letter, the lawmakers do not specifically ask the Pentagon to pause its mandate, rather, they ask the department to consider the economic negatives of such a rule.

“We have, from day one, promulgated [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and DoD guidance. We have championed the vaccine rollout and battled the surrounding misinformation. But we cannot stand idly by while the DoD makes a mistake that will inevitably compromise national security for decades,” they wrote.

The letter follows a more pointed message sent earlier this week by Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate Senate GOP moving toward deal to break defense bill stalemate Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE (R-Okla.), who asked Austin to suspend the mandate altogether, claiming a “lack of clarity and consistency” among the military services in implementing the order.