Florida sues Biden, NASA over COVID vaccine mandates for federal contractors

Gov. DeSantis on vaccine mandates: Florida wants to ‘protect all the jobs’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says his state is trying to recruit law enforcement who are ‘not being treated well’ from other states amid vaccine mandates.

EXCLUSIVE: The state of Florida is suing President Biden, NASA and a number of officials and agencies within the Biden administration over its “unlawful” COVID-19 vaccine mandates requiring government contractors to get vaccinated, saying the rule interferes with Florida’s employment policies and “threaten” the state’s economy.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Gov. Ron DeSantis filed the lawsuit, first obtained by Fox News, against 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.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody visits the Lakeland Police Department to announce a hiring bonus for new Florida police officers at the Lakeland Police department in Lakeland  Fl. Tuesday Sept. 7 2021. Lakeland Police Chief Ruben Garcia did not attend as he was at home recovering from Covid -19 infection. ERNST PETERS/ THE LEDGER090721 Ep Gov 9 News

Florida’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.”

FILE – In this Oct. 5, 2021, file photo a healthcare worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

“Because the government’s unlawful vaccine requirement seeks to interfere with Florida’s employment policies and threaten Florida with economic harm and the loss of federal contracts, the State seeks relief from this Court,” the lawsuit states.

In the lawsuit, Florida argues that, if unchallenged, the federal vaccine requirements would force Florida to require vaccinations of certain state officials, as the state contracts with entities that also contract with the federal government.

Florida’s lawsuit says that the Biden administration is “relying on a statute” which authorizes the president to “‘prescribe policies and directives that the president considers necessary to carry out’ the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act (FPASA) of 1949 (FPASA)” to “compel millions of Americans who work for government contractors to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.”

President Biden, with first lady Jill Biden, speaks during a visit at Brookland Middle School in northeast Washington, on Sept. 10. (AP)

“Nothing in that statute authorizes such a radical intrusion on the personal autonomy of American workers—especially, as is the case here, when many of those workers are officials of a sovereign state,” the lawsuit says. 

FILE – In this Wednesday, April 21, 2021 file photo, former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, nominee for administrator of NASA, speaks during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington.  In his first news interview since becoming NASA’s top official this week, Nelson told The Associated Press on Friday, May 7 that measuring the climate and diversifying the workforce are top issues. Nelson hedged on whether the U.S. can put astronauts on the moon by 2024.  (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)

Florida argued that “even if” the statute did authorize the mandate, the administration’s vaccine requirements “would still be unlawful because the manner in which they were enacted violates fundamental principles of administrative and procurement law.”

Florida believes the administration “misread FPASA,” claiming it “does not authorize the government to use its contracts to impose social policy not authorized by Congress,” a Florida official told Fox News.

The state is arguing that the court “hold unlawful and set aside” Biden’s executive order; issue “preliminary and permanent injunctive relief enjoining Defendants from enforcing the executive order;” issue declaratory relief declaring the administration’s actions “unlawful;” award Florida costs and attorney’s fees; and award any other relief the Court “deems equitable and just.” 

The lawsuit comes after President Biden signed an executive order over the summer requiring that all workers in the executive branch be vaccinated against COVID-19. Biden also signed an order to require businesses with more than 100 workers to mandate coronavirus vaccinations. 

Biden also signed an order in September requiring federal contractors to mandate vaccinations and ensure workers are fully vaccinated by Dec. 8. Some organizations representing federal contractors have urged the administration to extend the deadline for workers through 2022, arguing that the deadline could cause mass resignations in the height of the holiday season, and could contribute to the worsening supply chain crisis. 

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