Florida files lawsuit against Biden administration to challenge vaccine mandate for federal contractors
LAKELAND, Fla. - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced that the state has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration to challenge the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors, opening yet another battleground between the Republican governor and the White House.
DeSantis and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody made the announcement in Lakeland at the Florida Air Museum.
Fox News reports that the lawsuit was filed against President Joe Biden, NASA, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, and officials within the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Defense over the mandates, which require all workers in the executive branch be vaccinated against COVID-19, and require federal contractors to mandate vaccinations and ensure workers are fully vaccinated by Dec. 8.
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The state's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in the middle district of Florida's Tampa division Thursday morning, argues that NASA, and others "frequently contracts with Florida, has current contractual relationships with Florida, and is and will continue to seek to impose the Biden administration’s unlawful requirements to Florida."
The lawsuit alleges the president doesn’t have the authority to issue the rule and that it violates procurement law.
The governor previously had threatened legal action, saying he believed the mandate would lose in court.
"We think the state of Florida has standing to do it," DeSantis said. "We also know businesses that we’re going to work with to contest it."
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The governor also said Florida has "a responsibility at the state level to do whatever we need to do to protect Floridians from mandates that could result in them losing their jobs."
Biden and DeSantis have taken opposite stances on vaccine and mask mandates. While the president issued a mask mandate on federal grounds soon after taking office, DeSantis barred local mask mandates in Florida.
DeSantis recently announced he would call state lawmakers to the Capitol next month to pass legislation to combat vaccine mandates enacted by private businesses. DeSantis is eyeing a possible 2024 presidential run and has been consistent in his criticism of Biden's handling of the pandemic and other issues.
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In addition to a vaccine mandate for federal contractors, which is set to go into effect in December, Biden has also announced that private employers with 100 or more workers will have to require them to be vaccinated or tested weekly. The roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated. Additional details on the policies are expected to be released soon.
Biden has argued that the sweeping mandates will help end a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 740,000 Americans.
But Republicans nationwide have opposed the vaccination requirements and have threatened to bring similar legal challenges. On Wednesday, 21 Republican state attorneys general sent a letter to the president saying they think his vaccination mandate for federal contractors "stands on shaky legal ground," is confusing to contractors and could exacerbate supply-chain problems.
The Associated Press and Fox News contributed to this report.