NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A U.S. congressman from Tennessee has joined with several other Republican lawmakers to voice their opposition to reports of an impending COVID-19 vaccine mandate for service members.
Rep. Mark Green, who represents Tennessee’s seventh congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, said Friday that he sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, alongside 15 of his colleagues.
Austin has said he is working “expeditiously” to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for military personnel and is expected to ask President Biden to waive a federal law that requires individuals be given a choice if the vaccine is not fully licensed.
Green, a physician and decorated combat veteran wrote in the letter, “The law of the United States is clear. Mandatory vaccination is illegal for military personnel prior to complete approval (Doe v. Rumsfeld, 341 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2004). This has not occurred and could be another several months away.”
He explained that he believes the vaccines to be “safe and effective,” but added that servicemembers may not be forced to take any vaccines authorized under an Emergency Use Authorization.
Green continued, “As long as the vaccine is authorized under an Emergency Use Authorization, the Department of Defense does not have the authority to implement such an order. Servicemembers who do not wish to receive the vaccine cannot be required until the approval process is completed. Any action to require it is illegal. The Secretary of Defense is not above the law. The courts concurred.”
Other lawmakers listed on the letter to Austin:
- Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK)
- Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI)
- Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH)
- Rep. Barry Moore (R-AL)
- Rep. Jim Baird (R-IN)
- Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA)
- Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN)
- Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA)
- Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX)
- Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY)
- Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX)
- Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC)
- Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX)
- Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS)
- Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC)