OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor announced a lawsuit Thursday against the Biden administration over the federal vaccine mandate for federal employees and the National Guard.
The lawsuit asks the court to block the feds from withholding federal funding from the Oklahoma National Guard or its members over their vaccination status.
“Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate ensures that many Oklahoma National Guard members will simply quit instead of getting a vaccine, a situation that will irreparably harm Oklahomans’ safety and security,” O’Connor said.
“These patriots, along with many federal employees, who serve their country and their state are now at risk of being terminated because they do not wish to take the vaccine.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin sent a letter to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt earlier this week reinforcing the need for military members to be vaccinated following Stitt's request to bypass the mandate.
Stitt released the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
“The U.S. Constitution, the Oklahoma Constitution, and U.S. Code Title 32 are all clear: as governor, I am the Commander-in-Chief of the Oklahoma National Guard.
Therefore, unless mobilized by the President of the United States under U.S. Code Title10, I retain the authority for all training and governance of the Oklahoma National Guard – including determining if and how training guidelines issued by the president will be implemented.
This week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin declared his intention to proceed with unconstitutional punishment that individually targets Oklahoma National Guard soldiers and airmen, including withholding their pay.
It is unconscionable that President Biden and his administration are choosing to play politics with military paychecks, especially amid the highest inflation rate in 30 years and so close to the holiday season.
Threatening the pay of National Guard members is manifestly unlawful and unfair, as unvaccinated active-duty personnel do not have their pay withheld.
Further, it is hypocritical that Secretary Austin addresses the importance of medical readiness in his letter but fails to mention that unlike active-duty personnel, National Guard members are not provided health care and must purchase it themselves. If medical readiness is truly that high of a priority to the Department of Defense, it should provide health care for all National Guard Soldiers and Airmen like it does for active duty service members.
I will continue fighting to protect Oklahoma against this alarming pattern of unconstitutional federal overreach coming from the Biden administration.”
The Army's deadline for active-duty military members to get vaccinated is Dec. 15 while National Guard soldiers are required to be vaccinated by June 30, 2022.
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