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Gov. Greg Abbott sends letter condemning vaccine mandate, refuses to enforce on Texas National Guard

"The State of Texas will not enforce this latest COVID-19 vaccine mandate against its guardsmen," Abbott said.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday he sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reaffirming that the State of Texas will not impose the Biden Administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandate on members of the Texas National Guard.

In a press release, the governor's office said Secretary Austin threatened to cut off the flow of federal dollars for unvaccinated guardsmen late last month.

President Biden's mandate is at odds with Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order that bans all public and private entities in Texas from requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

In September, the president signed an executive order mandating that employees working on or in connection with a federal contract must be fully vaccinated. The order applies to new contracts as of Nov. 14 or renewed contracts as of Oct. 15. The deadline to comply is Jan. 18.

"As Governor of Texas, I am the commander-in-chief of this State’s militia," reads the letter. "In that capacity, on Oct. 4, 2021, I ordered the Adjutant General of Texas to comply with my Executive Order GA-39. If unvaccinated guardsmen suffer any adverse consequences within the State of Texas, they will have only President Biden and his Administration to blame. The State of Texas will not enforce this latest COVID-19 vaccine mandate against its guardsmen. If the federal government keeps threatening to defund the Texas National Guard, I will deploy every legal tool available to me as Governor in defense of these American heroes."

You can read the governor's letter here.

The Texas Military Department has confirmed that it has been following Gov. Abbott's Executive Order GA-39, which states that no government entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, up until this letter. Thus, the decision has remained voluntary.

A spokesperson for the Texas National Guard stated that, per the Secretary of Defense directive on Nov. 30, 2021, Air National Guardsmen are to comply with the vaccine mandate by Dec. 31, 2021, and all Army National Guardsmen are to comply with the vaccine mandate by June 30, 2022.

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