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Florida sues Biden administration over vaccine mandate for federal workers

Florida sues Biden administration over vaccine mandate for federal workers
The state of Florida on Thursday filed a lawsuit seeking to block the Biden administration's mandate requiring that all federal workers be vaccinated against COVID-19. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 28 (UPI) -- The state of Florida on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration over President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccination mandate for federal contractors amid an ongoing clash between the state and the federal government over pandemic-related restrictions.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the suit during a news conference in Lakeland, Fla., seeking a preliminary injunction against the mandate, which he described as the federal government "exceeding their power."

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"In Florida, we believe that these things are choices based on individual circumstances," DeSantis said. "We do have a responsibility to stand up for our authority here to govern ourselves and also make sure that this constitutional system of ours isn't out of whack."

Biden signed a pair of executive orders last month requiring all federal workers, contractors and healthcare workers employed by institutions that accept Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to get vaccinated and calling on governors throughout the nation to require vaccinations for all teachers and staff.

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DeSantis on Thursday said the lawsuit could cost workers jobs and negatively impact businesses in the state.

"Just because you're a business that has federal contracts, it's not right for the federal government to come in and rewrite those contracts and then try to shoehorn this in, and then if you don't comply, so you either have to fire people, or if you don't comply they'll just cancel the contract entirely even though this is something that you bid for and you won fair and square?" DeSantis said. "That's not the way we think business should be done."

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The governor also suggested the mandate could exacerbate supply chain issues in the country.

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"Do you think this is gonna help the supply chain problems that we see? Do you think it's gonna help lower gas prices, is it gonna help all these problems? No, if anything it will exacerbate," he said.

The Biden administration on Thursday also fired back with its own lawsuit against the state to block the Florida Department of Education's decision to withhold funds from the Broward and Alachua county school districts for requiring masks at their schools.

"We believe Florida's actions have violated federal law by reducing state funds on the receipt of federal funds," a representative with the U.S. Department of Education said in a statement.

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The statement also noted that federal officials made "repeated requests to work together and protect students, educators and school communities," while warning Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran that it would be unlawful for the state to withhold funds from the school districts in amounts equal to federal grants awarded to them.

To date, Florida has withheld $526,197 from Broward County Public Schools and $192,000 from Alachua County Public Schools, targeting salaries of school board members who voted for mask mandates.

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