Friday afternoon, Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) told Breitbart News that he sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warning that if American troops were mandated to receive the coronavirus vaccine before approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it would be against the law.
“I wrote the letter because of a concern that the executive branch is somehow going to operate outside of the laws written by Congress. And they can’t just decide that they’re going to disregard the law,” said Green, an Army combat veteran, and a physician.
“It’s time for Congress to stand up to the executive branch’s abuse and violation of the law. And so I wrote the letter basically to say this is an illegal act and the courts have supported the law,” he added.
As far as receiving a presidential waiver mandating the vaccine before the FDA has approved, Green states the defense secretary only can do so in connection with the service member’s participation in a “particular military operation.”
He cited 10 U.S. Code § 1107, which states:
(3)The Secretary of Defense may request the President to waive the prior consent requirement with respect to the administration of an investigational new drug or a drug unapproved for its applied use to a member of the armed forces in connection with the member’s participation in a particular military operation.
Green added, “Right now, what they’re talking about — a blanket mandate for all of DOD — is not in accordance with the law,” he said. “If you just excuse the executive branch breaking the law, then what’s next?”:
That was the whole point of the way our nation built the military and made it second to the civilian control and the laws of the land so that we wouldn’t have the president, through his military, act outside of the laws written by Congress. It just goes to the very foundation of who we are as a country. You can’t break the laws as the secretary of defense. That’s going down a path that we can’t go down as a country.
Both CNN and Fox News reported on Wednesday of Austin’s intention to recommend to President Biden to require all military members to receive coronavirus vaccinations and other required vaccines.
Green sent his letter to Austin on Friday morning in hopes of heading off the move. If the reports are accurate, it may have worked. He said as of Friday afternoon, no presidential order had been given to military commanders.
Green wrote to Austin in his 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 month away.
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.
Fifteen other Republicans joined Green in signing the letter. They include Stephanie Bice (OK), Jack Bergman (MI), Warren Davidson (OH), Barry Moore (AL), Jim Baird (IN), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA), Scott DesJarlais (TN), Buddy Carter (GA), Michael Burgess (TX), Claudia Tenney (NY), Brian Babin (TX), Greg Murphy (NC), Randy Weber (TX), Michael Guest (MS), and Dan Bishop (NC). At least four are physicians besides Green.
From a physician’s perspective, Green said that the coronavirus vaccine is just like any other vaccine with risks and benefits. He recommends it for older adults for whom the risk of getting coronavirus is greater than the risk from the vaccines. “So, I say people should get the vaccine, but it’s a risk-benefit analysis that should be made between the patient and the doctor,” he said.
Green said he and other lawmakers had received office calls for weeks regarding troops being harrassed by leaders to get vaccinated, so when reports of the defense secretary’s plans to recommend Biden mandating vaccines, people “all over the military were calling us and emailing us and calling our office.”
Any harassment to get the vaccine before the FDA approved or mandatory is illegal, he said.
“No harassment can be happening right now, none at all. And if it is, it’s illegal,” he said.