Governor of Florida Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisFlorida Strips Schools of Federal Aid for Mask Mandates Florida Surgeon General Defends No Mask Wearing in Meeting with Florida School District State Senator to Relax Mask Mandate for High School Students MORE (R) sued the Biden administration on Thursday over its COVID-19 vaccine mandates for federal contractors, the latest in a string of Republican attacks on President BidenJoe BidenBiden to Meet House Democrats Ahead of Europe Trip: Report 21 House Democrats Call for Removal of IRS Bank Reporting Proposal from Spending Bill Overnight Health Care – Presented by Altria – Vulnerable Democrats Push Drug Pricing Plan MOREpandemic response efforts.
The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Tampa, calls the policy a “radical intrusion into the personal autonomy of American workers” and seeks a nationwide preliminary injunction to prevent it from taking effect.
It names President Biden and a handful of federal agencies as defendants, including NASA, the General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget.
The policy is scheduled to go into effect on December 8 and will require all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19, without a testing option.
“It is important for us to take a position,” DeSantis said at a news conference. “Putting people aside is not something we can tolerate here in the state of Florida, so we will do everything we can.”
The lawsuit does not address a separate management rule, yet to be published, that will require companies with more than 100 employees to implement a vaccine or testing mandate.
DeSantis, who is seen as a likely presidential contender in 2024, has framed the vaccination as a personal choice. While he’s encouraged Floridians to talk to a trusted doctor or physician about vaccinations, DeSantis has said residents should only get vaccinated if they choose to.
Last month, a press conference for announce sanctions because any county that imposed a vaccination order included two vaccine workers, a Gainesville city employee who falsely claimed that he would not get a vaccine because he “changes his RNA.”
DeSantis has battled with the Biden administration on numerous COVID-19 policies. It has prohibited local governments from issuing a vaccination mandate or requiring any proof of vaccination. It has also banned schools from requiring masks and has de-funded schools that have persisted.
DeSantis said the vaccine mandates will force people out of work and threaten the livelihoods of contractors across the state.
“If you don’t deliver, or you have to fire people, or … they’ll just cancel the contract entirely, even if this is something you bid for and won fairly. We don’t think they have the authority to do that. “DeSantis said.
The lawsuit in Florida is far from the only attempt to block implementation of the vaccine requirements. In other cases, judges have largely aligned themselves with private companies that require vaccination.
Earlier this week, a Texas judge dismissed a request for a court order from a union representing pilots who work for Southwest Airlines, which imposed a requirement before the contractor’s mandate takes effect.
Health experts have praised the mandates as an effective way to vaccinate people, and the White House has relied entirely on them as a way to turn the tide of the pandemic, having initially avoided federal intervention.
In speeches, Biden has argued that government officials exhausted several other options to push Americans toward vaccination.
On Thursday, the White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff ZientsJeff ZientsWalensky: US ‘Going In The Right Direction’ But Must Stay ‘Vigilant’ Business Lobby Calls On Administration To ‘Step On The Brakes’ On Vaccine Mandate Republican Leaders Intensify Battle Against COVID Vaccine Mandates -19 MORE He said the purpose of the mandates is not to punish people and noted that the deadlines for federal employees and contractors “are not cliffs.”
Zients said federal employers and contractors are expected to educate, counsel and accommodate their unvaccinated workers to persuade them to get the vaccine before laying them off.