Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis threatened to challenge President Joe Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandate in court on Thursday, warning that he would challenge any federal laws that could ‘take away jobs’ in the Sunshine State.
‘We are going to contest that immediately. We think the state of Florida has standing to do it,’ DeSantis said during a press conference at the Florida Department of Health at Lee County. ‘We also know businesses that we’re going to work with to contest it.’
DeSantis said the lawsuit would be filed in the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
He argued that the issue went beyond COVID health precautions and could have ripple effects on his economy.
‘Let’s not have Biden come in and effectively take away — threaten to take away — the jobs of people who have been working hard throughout this entire pandemic,’ DeSantis said.
‘I am offended that a police officer could potentially lose their job.’
Earlier this week, DeSantis’ fellow Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas signed a state law banning private businesses from enacting vaccine mandates in response to the president’s order.
The GOP pushback is coming the same week as the federal government moved to finalize vaccination rules that would affect thousands of private businesses across the country.
DeSantis said he would challenge Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandate in the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals
In September Biden announced that all federal employees, and healthcare workers at hospitals receiving federal funds, would no longer be able to opt for weekly testing and would have to be vaccinated against COVID to keep their jobs.
He also ordered the Labor Department to draw up rules mandating all private companies with 100 or more employees either enact vaccine rules or require employees to submit to weekly COVID testing.
Those guidelines could be finalized as early as next week, according to NBC News.
On Tuesday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration submitted the proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget.
In all the new rules affect roughly 100 million people, about a third of the entire US workforce.
The plan immediately drew Republican outrage. DeSantis and the governors of South Dakota, Arizona, Texas and others have argued that vaccination should be a choice and threatened to defy the president’s orders.
‘I know Biden is trying to force this on everybody. One, I think it’s your choice, I don’t think you should get fired over this issue, and we want to protect people’s jobs, but two, it is absolutely is going to have a negative impact on the economy,’ DeSantis said on Thursday.
Earlier this week Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a state law banning vaccine mandates
He appeared to allude to Biden’s troubles with a lackluster September jobs report, soaring inflation and supply chain disruptions in claiming a vaccine order would add further strain to the US economy.
‘I just think it’s fundamentally wrong to be taking people’s jobs away, particularly given the situations that we see ourselves facing with the economy,’ the Florida governor said.
Yesterday he warned Biden’s vaccine mandate was ‘destroying’ Americans’ trust in the public health system.
‘The coercion is just totally wrong. I think it’s destroying trust in public health to the extent that there was still trust left over after everything that’s been done. You’re going to end up driving people away,’ DeSantis said at a Wednesday news conference.
Months before Biden’ order on COVID vaccinations, DeSantis – who has been floated as a potential 2024 presidential nominee – waged war on similar mandates by signing a bill banning ‘vaccine passports’ in May.
Under current Florida law, businesses and other entities that ask for proof of COVID vaccination from consumers could be slapped with a fine of up to $5,000.
The state government has been enforcing the rule, most recently fining Leon County $3.57 million for mandating all of its government employees get the shot.
A Leon County official said they are prepared to defend the mandate.
Florida’s Department of Health also issued a list of more than 100 places that are ‘under review’ for violating the anti-mandate law this week.
But the vaccine passport ban has already faced an uphill battle in court.
A federal district judge ruled in August that Norwegian Cruise Line could still, at least for now, ask passengers for proof of vaccination even when ships set sail out of DeSantis’ state. The judge claimed that Florida ‘fails to provide a valid evidentiary, factual, or legal predicate’ for its law.
DeSantis has also been butting heads with school districts defying his ban on mask mandates in the classroom. Under his direction the state has docked salaries of school officials who required masks without allowing parents to opt out.
The COVID pandemic has hit Florida particularly hard. At one point one out of every five new infections in the US were from the state
The rate of new infections has dropped off after a summer surge fueled by the Delta variant
COVID vaccinations have also picked up somewhat though the US is still far from the critical threshold needed to reach herd immunity
Also this week DeSantis floated the possibility of passing a law to protect employees from being fired for not getting vaccinated, in addition to the existing rule for consumers.
He admitted on Tuesday that he probably couldn’t ‘unilaterally’ block employers from firing the unvaccinated with an executive order alone. He urged the state legislature to take the matter up instead.
‘I think you need a law to be able to just say you shouldn’t be terminated for this reason,’ DeSantis said.
COVID cases have dropped off in the US in recent weeks after a summer surge fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant.
At the same time, the vaccination rate has slowly crept up after slumping in the spring.
Florida was particularly hard hit during the pandemic. All the while DeSantis has consistently resisted statewide health precautions like mask rules and lockdowns.
At one point, Florida COVID cases made up one out of every five new infections in the country.
While DeSantis promised a court challenge on Thursday, Biden addressed Americans from the White House in a brief speech insisting vaccine mandates should not divide the country.
‘Let’s be clear, vaccination requirements should not be another issue that divides us,’ Biden said in the six-minute address. ‘That’s why I continue to battle the misinformation out there.’
‘School board members, religious leaders and doctors across the country are fighting misinformation and educating people about the importance of vaccines.’