Gov. Abbott sues to block Biden COVID vaccine requirement to apply to Texas National Guard

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Making good on a promise made last month to not force Texas National Guard members to comply with Pres. Biden's military COVID-19 vaccine requirement, Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday said he is suing the White House to prevent applying the mandate to the state's military force.

In a letter announcing the lawsuit, Abbott also directed members within his chain of command to not punish guard members who do not receive a vaccine.

SEE ALSO: 103 Marines discharged for refusing to take COVID vaccine

"Unless President Biden federalizes the Texas National Guard in accordance with Title 10 of the U.S. Code, he is not your commander-in-chief under our federal or state Constitutions. And as long as I am your commander-in-chief, I will not tolerate efforts to compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine," Abbott's letter reads.

Abbott continues, "Let me be crystal clear: It is the federal government that has put Texas's guardsmen in this difficult position. As your commander-in-chief, I will fight on your behalf. That is why I am suing the Biden Administration over its latest unconstitutional vaccine mandate."

Last October, Abbott informed the more than 20,000 members of the Texas National Guard that they were included in his executive orders banning any governmental entity from imposing vaccine mandates.

Texas has the largest National Guard contingent of any state and hasn't disclosed how many of its members are vaccinated.

Despite railing against federal actions, Abbott's state health officials appealed for federal aid for increased COVID-19 testing and treatment as a virus resurgence driven by the omicron variant has spiked cases.

Tuesday's action also comes in the midst of additional pushback against the Defense Department's orders to vaccinate all members of the U.S. military.

A federal judge in Texas granted a preliminary injunction stopping the Navy from acting against 35 sailors for refusing on religious grounds to comply with an order to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said repeatedly that getting the vaccine is critical to maintaining a heathy, ready force that can be prepared to defend the nation. He decided that Guard members who refuse COVID-19 vaccinations will be barred from federally funded drills and training required to maintain their Guard status.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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