Defense

Texas governor seeks to block vaccine mandate for National Guard members

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) filed a motion Tuesday seeking to block the military from enforcing its vaccine mandate for certain National Guard members in his state.

The motion, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, argues that President Biden has not federalized the Texas National Guard, and therefore has no authority to enforce the mandate.

“This Court should enjoin the Biden Administration’s attempt to commandeer Governor Abbott’s commander-in-chief power. That lawless shortcut would undermine the chain of command, blur the lines of accountability, and hollow out the Texas National Guard in a way that puts all Texans at risk,” reads the motion.

“A preliminary injunction is needed to prevent these imminent and irreparable harms to Governor Abbott and the sovereign state he serves,” it adds.

The Pentagon had no comment on the motion because it is pending litigation. 

The request comes a month after Abbott sued the Pentagon over the vaccine mandate, claiming it conflicted with an order he gave to not punish Guardsmen who choose not to be vaccinated.  

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin mandated vaccinations for the entire military in late August but left it up to each service to implement the mandate.

Air National Guard members had until Dec. 31 to be inoculated, but Army National Guard members still have until June 30 to be inoculated.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) joined Abbott’s lawsuit on Jan. 27, but Monday’s motion focuses solely on the Texas National Guard.

The National Guard is unique, as it operates under two federal statutes. Abbott’s motion seeks to protect members of his state’s National Guard operating under Title 32 of the U.S. Code — which places them under state authority.

But Title 10 of the U.S. code stipulates that the president can mobilize the Guard, thereby placing them under federal authority.

Late last month, the Defense secretary wrote letters to Abbott, Dunleavy and five other GOP governors who have objected to the mandate, telling them that he had the power to implement the mandate “regardless of duty status.”

He further warned that failing to comply “will lead to a prohibition on participation in drills, training, and other duty conducted under title 32 and will jeopardize the member’s status in the National Guard.”

“President Biden must be held accountable for his unconscionable willingness to hollow out the Texas National Guard with another illegal vaccine mandate,” Abbott said in a statement. “As the commander-in-chief of Texas’ militia, I will deploy every legal tool in defense of these American heroes.”

–Updated at 1:15 p.m.

Tags Greg Abbott Joe Biden Lawsuit Lloyd Austin National Guard vaccine mandate

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