By Jack Phillips

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said on Tuesday his administration will sue to block the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate for the Texas National Guard.

“As the commander-in-chief of Texas’s militia, I have issued a straightforward order to every member of the Texas National Guard within my chain of command: Do not punish any guardsman for choosing not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” Abbott wrote in a letter to Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, Adjutant General of the Texas Military Department.

Abbott, a Republican, added that his “order has been in effect for months now, President [Joe] Biden has muddied the waters with a vaccine mandate from the U.S. Department of Defense,” according to his letter.

“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,” Abbott wrote to Norris.

Abbott’s announcement of a lawsuit comes days after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt lost a similar case in a bid to block the Department of Defense’s mandate for National Guard members, and comes weeks after Abbott wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that he would not impose the vaccine requirement for Texas Guard members.

Following a judge’s earlier order rejecting Stitt’s bid, the chief of the Oklahoma National Guard said on Dec. 30 that unvaccinated airmen won’t be allowed to drill.

“The Department of Defense has indicated it will recoup any pay provided to unvaccinated airmen who drill after Jan. 1, 2022,” U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino announced, adding the Pentagon “can enforce this threat outside of the State of Oklahoma’s control.” Mancino previously said he backed Stitt’s decision that he won’t enforce the mandate.

Members of the Army National Guard have until June 2022 to get vaccinated.

Starting in August, the Pentagon mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for members of the military. Each service branch is responsible for administering them.

But earlier this week, a federal court granted a preliminary injunction to a group of three-dozen Navy Special Warfare servicemembers, including Navy SEALs, after they sued the Biden administration for denying them vaccine-related religious exemptions.

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“The Navy servicemembers in this case seek to vindicate the very freedoms they have sacrificed so much to protect,” Judge Reed O’Connor wrote in his order (pdf) on Monday. “The COVID-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms. There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment. There is no military exclusion from our Constitution.”

The Epoch Times has contacted the Department of Defense for comment in response to Abbott’s letter and lawsuit threat.

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