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Judge sides with Pentagon on National Guard vaccination mandate

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The ruling strengthens the legal status of the military vaccine mandate as the Biden administration fights to increase vaccination rates among Americans.

Tuesday’s move comes weeks after the Republican governors of Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska and Wyoming urged the Pentagon to reconsider vaccine requirements for their National Guard contingents in a joint letter.

They argued – just as Stitt did – that the National Guard is under the authority of the governor of each state unless activated by the president. This means, they said, that coronavirus vaccination requirements cannot be imposed by the Defense Secretary on members of the National Guard in their states until troops are mobilized by the federal government.

Judge Friot’s ruling on Tuesday was a de facto disagreement with this argument.

It is indisputably clear that the intention of Congress. . . is that the Guard and its members will in any event be prepared, in accordance with federal military standards, to be called up to federal service. . . with little or no notice, ” said Friot, who was appointed to his post by Republican President George W. Bush in 2001.

The Biden administration “is acting well within the authority granted by the Constitution and the laws of the United States,” added Friot.

Many states – sometimes with success – have sought to convince courts to suspend the Biden administration’s vaccination warrants, which sought to compel federal contractors, federal agencies, private companies with 100 or more workers, and establishments of health workers covered by Medicaid and Medicare to immunize their employees, minus those who have received medical or religious exemptions.

The leaders of those states, many of whom are Republicans, have said the warrants violate the right of citizens to make their own medical decisions.

WASHINGTON POST

Fines rise as 2 Georgia officials dispense with masks

WASHINGTON – During a recent marathon session in the House, two Republican lawmakers from Georgia sat down in plain view of television cameras. Neither of them wore a mask.

It was the final act of defiance of the couple, Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene and Andrew Clyde, against a rule requiring lawmakers to wear masks on House floors. Most Republican lawmakers, even reluctantly, have complied with the mandate, which can result in fines that quickly grow to hefty amounts. But Greene and Clyde repeatedly and proudly flouted him.

To date, the two have incurred more than $ 100,000 in combined fines, which are taken directly from their paychecks.

A resolution approved by the House in January says members will be fined $ 500 for the first time they do not wear a mask on House floors, and $ 2,500 for subsequent violations. The House Ethics Committee notes each fine in a press release, but Greene and Clyde’s violations were so numerous that the panel began reporting theirs in clusters.

Greene, who said she was not vaccinated, called the mask requirement “communist,” “tyrannical” and “bossy.”

“The American people have had enough and are standing up against these outrageous and unconstitutional policies,” she said in a statement.

Greene has been fined more than 30 for breaking mask rules, racking up more than $ 80,000 in penalties, according to her office. She was fined five days in a row during a stretch this fall.

Only 20 of Greene’s fines, totaling nearly $ 50,000, were announced by the ethics committee. (Internal proceedings and appeals can delay announcements for up to two months.)

Clyde was fined at least 14 for breaking the mask rule, racking up at least $ 30,000 in penalties.

In disputing his fines, Clyde accused the House and the sanctioning Sergeant-at-Arms of a “deeply troubling” practice of “selective execution.”

Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky who was also fined, suggested that Clyde had found a way around paying the fines. Massie told CNN that Clyde changed his payroll deductions so that he was only paid $ 1 per month.

A spokesperson for Clyde did not respond to a request for comment.

Other Republicans who have been fined at least once for not wearing a mask on the house floor include Bob Good of Virginia, Brian Mast of Florida, Mary Miller of Illinois, Beth Van Duyne. from Texas, Chip Roy from Texas, Ralph Norman from South Carolina and Mariannette Miller-Meeks from Iowa.

Massie, Greene and Norman have filed a federal lawsuit in Washington against President Nancy Pelosi, seeking a judge’s order to quash the fines as unconstitutional. The lawsuit accuses Pelosi of having used the warrant “like a club” to secure the wages of his “political opponents”.

He argues that the House can fine members for disorderly behavior, but Republicans don’t think refusal to wear a mask falls into that category.

NEW YORK TIMES


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