TULSA, Okla. — From the Governor's office to the Pentagon, a struggle for power over vaccines and the military. Today the Stitt administration announced a lawsuit, asking a judge to grant a temporary restraining order to halt the federal vaccine mandate, specifically for the Oklahoma National Guard.
State Attorney General, John O'Connor arguing the mandate is unconstitutional and that members of the Oklahoma National Guard will quit if forced to comply, leaving the state vulnerable. A call being made by state leaders for weeks.
Gov. Stitt sent a letter to Secretary Austin on November 2nd, calling the National Guard vaccine requirement "irresponsible" and claiming it could make the guard less ready for emergencies.
On November 11th, Gov. Stitt's new Adjutant General sent a memo promising that unvaccinated guard members would not be punished for their vaccination status.
Fast forward to Monday, Secretary Austin responded dismissing the Governor and the Adjutant General, saying a vaccinated military is a ready military and that vaccines are still mandatory.
That was not the end of the fight.
In a statement, Gov. Stitt, maintained that he is in charge of the National Guard, not the Federal Government. A statement from a spokesperson citing U.S. Title 32, which grants the Governor authority to mobilize the national guard.
Then, Tuesday night, Austin sent a memo saying unvaccinated guardsmen won't be paid.
Today, Governor Stitt, claimed control over his state. He said that under U.S., state, and Title 32, "I am the commander and Chief of the Oklahoma National Guard..." adding that Secretary Austin is in favor of a " unconstitutional punishment that individually targets Oklahoma National Guard soldiers and airmen , including withholding their pay.
Meanwhile, Sen. Lankford has proposed an amendment to the NDAA, the big military spending plan. The amendment would prohibit the Department of Defense from withholding pay or benefits because of a service member's vaccination status. If passed, it's possible Secretary Austin would not be able to withhold pay.
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