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Gov. Abbott says Texas will sue Biden administration over vaccine mandate for National Guard

The state has already challenged the federal government’s vaccine orders for big businesses, health care workers and federal contractors.

TEXAS, USA — In the state’s latest push against federal vaccine mandates, Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday announced plans to sue the Biden administration for requiring Texas National Guard members to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The suit would be the latest in what has been a slew of litigation against federal vaccine mandates that Texas has either brought forth or taken part in during the pandemic.

In a letter issued Tuesday to Maj. Gen. Tracy R. Norris, the adjutant general of the Texas National Guard, Abbott claimed authority to exempt Texas guard members from receiving the vaccine.

“And as long as I am your commander-in-chief, I will not tolerate efforts to compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine,” Abbott wrote. “To the extent the [Department of Defense] vaccine mandate conflicts with the order I have given, my order controls.”

Last year, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III issued a memo calling for mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 for members of the armed forces, including the National Guard. Under the mandate, Air National Guard members had until the end of 2021 to receive the vaccine, while Army troops have until June, according to the Department of Defense. Those who refuse to get vaccinated could get their pay or training suspended and could be discharged if they continue to refuse.

Abbott condemned the federal mandate in a December letter to Austin, and in October he had ordered Norris not to punish Texas National Guard members who refuse to get the vaccine.

This story was originally published at TexasTribune.orgThe Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.