Republicans continue to take issue with COVID-19 vaccine mandates, and the pressure is on U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. This week, a group of Republican lawmakers led by Florida Rep. Mike Waltz (R) directed a letter to the U.S. Secretary, urging the Biden administration to strike down vaccine mandates on members of the armed services.
Specifically, lawmakers make reference to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) August 11th, 2022 guidance on Department of Defense policy requirements.
The guidance, which was released by the CDC, says that restrictive COVID-19 guidelines are no longer required because of “greater immunity amongst the general public and increasingly more effective pharmaceutical treatments.” The guideline also “eliminates the differentiation of medical recommendations between unvaccinated and vaccinated people.”
The Florida Republican, who’s chided the Biden administration over its decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and who’s been a vocal opponent of vaccine mandates, further expressed his disapproval in a statement.
“Our military has been crippled by the restrictive COVID-19 policies that the Department of Defense under the Biden administration have implemented,” said Waltz, adding that “right now, approximately forty-five thousand National Guardsmen are currently unable to participate in crucial training because of the current mandate in place.”
“Additionally, our military could lose hundreds of highly trained, specialized, and skilled active service members that our nation has invested millions into training if this mandate is not lifted,” Waltz noted.
The veteran lawmaker goes on to express that the United States cannot afford to lose servicemembers, questioning that “at a time where our adversaries, including China, are rapidly expanding and modernizing their militaries, why would the Department of Defense continue to implement a policy that decreases military recruitment, retention, and readiness?”
In the letter, the lawmakers argue that “lawful orders must be followed by our service members, but it is also the duty of the military officers and Department of Defense officials appointed over them to thoughtfully reconsider any standing order that has been rendered invalid as the facts on the ground change.”