By Katabella Roberts
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Nov. 4 that he is suing the Biden administration over its “unconstitutional” employer vaccine mandate being issued through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
DeSantis said in a statement that the lawsuit against the administration would be filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit as soon as OSHA’s “unlawful” emergency temporary standard (ETS) is published in the Federal Register.
On Thursday, OSHA announced details of the plan, which applies to businesses with 100 or more employees. It also announced its rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requiring 17 million health care workers at facilities that receive federal funding to be vaccinated.
The White House has pushed back the deadline for workers in those sectors to get fully vaccinated to Jan. 4, 2022, according to a senior administration official. That date also applies to federal contractors.
President Biden’s administration in September announced that federal workers and federal contractors will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Contractors had until Dec. 8 to mandate their employees to get the shot. Federal contractors can’t allow their employees to opt out.
The governor said the vaccine mandate will drastically impact Florida companies, both public and private, who receive millions of dollars in federal contracts annually.
“We started with 15 days to slow the spread and now it’s get jabbed or lose your job. We’re supposed to be a government of laws, not a government of men. This OSHA rule is 500 pages of a government of bureaucracy, a government that is being run by executive edict, not a government bound by constitutional constraints,” said DeSantis in a statement.
“The State of Florida will immediately challenge the OSHA rule in court because it’s inconsistent with the Constitution and not legally authorized through Congressional statutes. There is no federal police power and the federal government cannot unilaterally impose medical policy under the guise of workplace regulation. Individuals should make informed choices about their own healthcare. It is important to stand up for people’s individual ability to make decisions for themselves. And the practical result is that this is going to exacerbate a lot of the existing problems that we are seeing with the economy,” DeSantis said.
The Florida governor pointed to a string of “atrocious aspects” in the OSHA rule, including a section which states that OSHA will issue an ETS if it determines that “employees are subject to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards, and an ETS is necessary to protect employees from such danger.”
“If this was such a ‘grave danger,’ why did it take 57 days from the announcement by President Biden to publish the rule and why won’t it take effect until January 4—another 60 days?” DeSantis said.
DeSantis stressed that the new rule would impact nearly 9,000 employers in Florida and the 4.5 million Floridians they employ, making up 60 percent of the state’s workforce. Additionally, it would cost $2.9 billion, he added.
“This OSHA rule must be deemed unconstitutional and Florida will be leading the way in taking the Biden Administration to court,” DeSantis said.
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, and South Dakota also said Thursday that they would file lawsuits against the mandate as soon as Friday.
The attorneys general of Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee also announced they would take legal action against the White House over the rule and filed a lawsuit (pdf) in a bid to challenge the new rule.
Biden’s administration said it plans to provide “education and counseling” to federal workers who don’t get vaccinated by the deadline, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Oct. 20.
“For the small number of people who do not comply by the deadline, the first step is a period of education and counseling,” Walensky said.
“It’s important to remember that this is a process, and the point here is to get people vaccinated—not to punish them. So agencies will not be removing employees from federal service until after they’ve gone through a process of education and counseling,” Walensky added.
Meanwhile, the president also doubled down on defending the vaccine mandate this week, telling a press conference, “As we’ve seen with businesses—large and small—across all sectors of our economy, the overwhelming majority of Americans choose to get vaccinated.”
“There have been no ‘mass firings’ and worker shortages because of vaccination requirements. Despite what some predicted and falsely assert, vaccination requirements have broad public support,” Biden said.
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