Republican lawmakers, including those from Florida, continue to push Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to end the Pentagon’s COVID-19 mandate.
On Wednesday, 14 House Republicans, led by Rep. Michael Waltz of St. Augustine, sent Austin a letter reminding him that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that “more restrictive” COVID-19 guidelines are outdated and outmoded largely because of natural immunity and increasingly effective pharmaceutical treatments.
The CDC’s updated guidance, issued on Aug. 11, “reflects this new understanding by eliminating the differentiation of medical recommendations between unvaccinated and vaccinated people,” the lawmakers reminded Austin.
The CDC also has said public health agencies can focus on “sustainable measures” to reduce illness and minimize strain on the healthcare system, while not impeding social, educational, and economic activity.
“Why not also reduce the strain on our already faltering military recruitment and retention efforts by taking this new data into consideration, as the CDC has in their new guidance, and revise the Department of Defense’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate?” the lawmakers asked.
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“DoD’s COVID-19 guidance is supposedly aligned with CDC guidelines for the general public and the current science. DoD should follow the CDC’s lead and halt the discrimination between vaccinated and unvaccinated service members now that the science has shown there is no difference in the health recommendations between the two groups.”
Because of the failure to recognize new scientific evidence, the Defense Department is driving out “hundreds” of highly trained and specialized service members, including aviators and elite commandos. Moreover, 45,000 National Guardsmen are barred from “crucial” training because of a “vaccine mandate that does not slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”
“All of this is happening with the backdrop of a recruiting and retention crisis the military services have not seen in decades,” the lawmakers added.
“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,” the letter continued.
“The Department of Defense vaccine mandate is more detrimental than beneficial to the readiness of our armed forces and our nation’s security, and we urge you to fully align the Department’s COVID-19 policies with the Center of Disease Control and Prevention by rescinding the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.”
In a statement, Waltz, the first Green Beret elected to Congress, noted, “Our military has been crippled by the restrictive COVID-19 policies that the Department of Defense under the Biden Administration have implemented.”
“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?” he added.
“With the CDC’s new guidance, my colleagues and I are calling on Secretary Austin to rescind the Department of Defense’s outdated and obsolete COVID-19 vaccine mandate.”
Rep. Scott Franklin was among the 13 other GOP lawmakers who signed Waltz’s letter.
As The Free Press reported earlier this week, Florida GOP Reps. Greg Steube of Sarasota and Bill Posey of Rockledge were among nine Republicans who last week also urged Austin to surrender the mandate, as well as bring back troops who were discharged for refusal to be jabbed, with full back pay and benefits.
“Our fighting men and women are disproportionately younger, healthier and and significantly less at risk from COVID-19 than the general population,” that letter observed, “and recent reports show that 97% of our men and women in uniform have already taken the vaccine.”
The mandate “goes against the principles of freedom and individual liberty that we hold dear,” they told Austin.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Free Press.