WASHINGTON, D.C. – On October 22, 2021 Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01), Vice Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, sent a letter with his colleagues on the Committee to President Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin voicing their grave concerns surrounding the impending vaccination deadlines for Department of Defense contractors.
The letter points to the serious long-term costs that a vaccine mandate will have both on our defense industrial base and our overall national security. The hardworking employees of the defense industrial base who refuse a vaccination for a number of reasons now face an uncertain future with an extremely difficult and often non-existent chance to apply for a waiver. These Members of the House Armed Services Committee point out that, unfortunately, policymakers are chasing direct benefits without respectful consideration of indirect costs.
“We have, from day one, promulgated CDC and DoD guidance, ” the members write. “We have championed the vaccine rollout and battled the surrounding misinformation. But we cannot stand idly by while the DoD makes a mistake that will inevitably compromise national security for decades.”
The full text of the letter can be found here and below:
Dear President Biden and Secretary Austin:
We write to express our concerns with respect to the impending vaccination deadlines for Department of Defense contractors. We fear that policy makers are chasing direct benefits without respectful consideration of indirect costs. Our defense industrial base is not a monolithic entity – the hardworking patriots who comprise the backbone of the industry come from diverse backgrounds.
As such, though many contract workers have opted to receive vaccination, many have not, and the reasons are abundant. The system for application for a waiver is arcane and for most, seemingly nonexistent. They now face uncertainty in their livelihoods: compromise their concerns about the ethics, efficacy, and safety of the vaccine, or accept termination in employment.
We have, from day one, promulgated CDC and DoD guidance. We have championed the vaccine rollout and battled the surrounding misinformation. But we cannot stand idly by while the DoD makes a mistake that will inevitably compromise national security for decades. Those who adamantly refuse the vaccine will accept termination. We will lose critical experience in skilled labor. We will lose opportunities for mentorship and on-the-job training from veteran craftsmen. In the long-term, we will miss quality control standards. We will face endemic cost overruns and rework as decades of lessons are not passed to the next generation.
Perhaps most concerning to us lies in the near-term. When the deadlines and cost estimates aren’t met, who shoulders the responsibility? If a contractor loses key members of its workforce due to a post-negotiation customer demand, the customer is to blame. The Department of Defense is the customer and will ultimately be at fault when the industrial base falters at a crucial turning point in our deterrence of China.
In this era of strategic competition, everything must be considered a front in an evolving battlespace. Cost-benefit analysis must be applied to every investment, and we do not find this to be one that is sound. We strongly urge you to reconsider the manner in which you are seeking to address this issue so as not to harm the livelihood of civilian contractors, industry partners, and strategic goals of our armed services.
Don’t miss the forest for the trees.