Florida sues over Biden vaccine mandates; DeSantis says requirements will throw people out of work

By: - October 28, 2021 2:02 pm

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference in Lakeland on Oct. 28, 2021, as Attorney General Ashley Moody looks on. Source: Screenshot/DeSantis Facebook page

Florida has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the Biden administration’s impending employee vaccine requirement for federal contractors, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody announced Thursday.

It is unfair for the federal government to unilaterally rewrite its agreements with contractors, DeSantis said during a news conference in Lakeland.

Moody filed for an injunction against the federal mandate in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida’s Tampa courthouse. The vaccine requirement is due to take effect next month, but workers also would be allowed to take regular COVID tests as an alternative to vaccinations.

“That’s not the way we think business should be done. We don’t think that they have the authority to do that,” the DeSantis said. “If we’re not successful challenging this, you will absolutely see disruption in the economy.”

President Joe Biden also plans to issue an Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules imposing vaccine-or-testing mandates on companies with more than 100 employees. Similar requirements are planned for health care providers drawing Medicaid and Medicare money.

DeSantis noted that Florida is host to a vigorous federal contracting sector, including aerospace and defense companies on the Space Coast, and argued the requirements will throw people out of work. A number of federal contractor employees appeared to describe jobs they have lost or fear losing but none mentioned whether they’d been offered a testing alternative.

The governor and attorney general argued that the federal government lacks authority to issue the mandates.

Moody decried “incompetent, reckless leadership coming out of Washington.” DeSantis warned of creeping federal overreach.

The complaint names Biden; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and its director, former Florida Sen. Bill Nelson; the federal Office of Management and Budget; and the General Services Association, plus additional agencies and administrators.

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal.