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During Thursday’s House Armed Services Committee hearing on Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s failure to notify the President of his recent hospitalization, U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-01) confronted Secretary Austin over his hypocrisy of asking Congress for forgiveness and grace while refusing to re-recruit and restore the full rank and back pay for the 8,600 service members who were forced out of the military due to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Video of Rep. Gaetz’s interaction with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the House Armed Services Committee hearing can be found HERE and below. A rough transcript can also be found immediately below:


Rep. Gaetz: You didn’t tell the President that you had cancer, that you were being treated for cancer, or that the treatment for that cancer had gone wrong, because you saw it as personal and medical. And I think a lot of us have empathy for you in that regard. But now that you see how personal medical decisions are, will you call for the re0recruitment, restoration of full rank and back pay for the 8,600 service members who were Vax mandated out of the military?

Secretary Austin: No, I won’t.

Rep. Gaetz: So on March 4, 2021, you authored a memo, it was entitled message to the force. And in that memo, you said that there would be clear and swift accountability for anyone who didn’t meet the highest standards of the Department of Defense. Now, however, this worked out, we all acknowledge that what you did here didn’t meet the highest standards, right? You made a mistake?

Secretary Austin: I admitted to–

Rep. Gaetz: So we got that. So then the question is what becomes the clear and swift accountability now? You’re not going to be discharged, right? No?

Secretary Austin: That’s right.

Rep. Gaetz: Okay, you’re not going to be suspended, you’re not going to be demoted, and you’re not going to have your pay cut. None of those things are going to happen to you, right?

Secretary Austin: That’s right.

Rep. Gaetz: Okay. So you come here seeking some grace and some forgiveness. And I want you to know that one of the service members who you’ve vax-mandated out of the military sent me the parable of the unforgiving debtor. And it’s in the book of Matthew:21-35. ‘The man fell down before his king and begged him, please be patient with me, and I will pay all the debt. Then his master filled with pity for him, released him and forgave him of his debt. But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded payment. His fellow servant sat down and begged him for a little more time, be patient with me, and I will pay it he pleaded, but his creditor would not wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. And the king called the man who had been forgiven and said, you evil servant, I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you? Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.’ Mr. Secretary, you come to us seeking forgiveness, but you offer none. And it seems as though the pattern is repeated. You make a mistake, like on the vax mandate, and here regarding your notification, then you get busted. President Biden had to sign something into law reversing your vax mandate, you got busted here not because you came forward, but because we learned of this through other means. And then after you get busted making it a mistake, you want that benefit, but you don’t want to extend it to others. This isn’t swift or clear. You’re not meeting your own standards that you set for yourself. And you say that the DoD is a learning organization. Haven’t you learned yet that the military is weaker, not stronger, with the 8,600 people that you’ve vax mandated out of the military?

Secretary Austin: Just one point, congressman. The reason I’m here is because the Chairman requested that I appear to talk about the circumstances surrounding my hospitalization.

Rep. Gaetz: But don’t you see the hypocrisy in it? Because you screwed up, we fix your screw up and now you want grace. But these people who have sought religious exemptions, they got no such grace. And also, I just think it’s ridiculous that we’re in three wars – you went AWOL for three days, and we get two hours with you. If you can’t spend more than two hours answering these questions, I don’t know how you’re really operating all these wars.

Author: Press Release


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