“It’s time President Biden recognizes that mandates are not the answer; frank conversations between doctors and patients are the answer.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) today on the Senate floor expressed his concern about the Biden administration’s potential policy to dishonorably discharge service members if they do not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. During his speech, the senator also discussed the vaccine mandates’ negative impact on defense contractors, citing two letters he recently sent to President Biden and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) to sound the alarm on the issue.
Excerpts from the Senator’s remarks can be found below, and his full remarks can be viewed here.
“I asked the Secretary of Defense what I thought was a simple question: ‘As the leader of the Department of Defense, was he against dishonorable discharges for members of the military who decided not to get the COVID vaccine?’ He hem-hawed around, but he never answered my question. But to me – it’s simple. The answer should be we will not dishonorably discharge those who serve honorably.”
“Receiving a dishonorable discharge means they lose all their veterans’ benefits and their pension. In some states, it’s on par with a felony conviction. That means they lose their ability to vote or to carry a gun – not to mention what it does to their ability to find a new job. A dishonorable discharge is – and should continue to be – handed down for only the ‘most reprehensible conduct’ in the military.”
“Now, I’m for the vaccine – I’ve taken it. My family’s taken it. And I continue to encourage others to talk about it and talk to their doctor about it. And I also respect the chain of command. I know how important it is for soldiers to follow orders. But, this vaccine is still new, and I’m sure the Department of Defense can look at other ways to manage our force rather than put a stain on the reputations of men and women who wanted to serve their country.”
“[President Biden’s] mandates are short-sighted and ill-conceived, and they threaten our national security.”
“It creates a false choice for our defense contractors. They are forced to choose between coming to their job and working to support our military or taking a new vaccine that they don’t want. The decision should be between their doctor and their patient…it puts the important and critical performance of our [defense] industry in jeopardy.”
“Alabama alone is home to more than 5,000 defense contractors. When these firms are unable to perform, our country will be at risk. The guidance for compliance has changed with little to no warning. This ‘moving of the regulatory goalposts’ creates uncertainty and drives up compliance costs – especially for smaller firms that lack large HR departments.”
“So, last week, I called on the Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed to schedule a hearing on this issue. I want to hear straight from the small business owners who are struggling to figure out how to comply. We need to know just how disruptions in their ability to complete their work may impact the defense supply chain. I also want to hear from expert witnesses within the Department of Defense – we need to have a full picture of the current state of vaccine compliance. If the Senate were to take action on a solution, it is critical that we have all the facts.”
“I also sent a letter to the president urging him to reverse course on his federal contractor vaccine mandate. On Monday, the White House backed down from their arbitrary deadline of December 8th with the announcement of new ‘flexibilities’ in their guidance. While this step is in the right direction, they haven’t gone far enough.”
“I’d encourage the White House to focus on protecting American liberties while pursuing a holistic strategy to combat COVID.”
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.