(The Center Square) – Florida “will fight” to thwart President Joe Biden’s “coercive” order that mandates vaccines or weekly testing for all school staff/teachers and workers at companies with more than 100 employees, Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed Thursday.
“I’d imagine that you’re going to see a lot of activity in the courts if they tried to do that through an executive action,” he said. “Congress has never legislated this. This would just be (Biden) doing it on his own and that’s not, I think, the way to do it.”
Biden on Thursday announced new COVID-19 vaccine mandates via executive orders and regulatory rulemaking, including a provision mandating all private employers with 100 or more employees ensure employees are vaccinated or get tested weekly. Failure to comply could incur $14,000 fines.
The White House estimates the rule, to be enforced by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), could affect up to 80 million unvaccinated Americans.
After Biden’s announcement, DeSantis told reporters that “maybe (the unvaccinated) are making the wrong decision” but to “put them out of work over this is fundamentally wrong.
”How could we get to the point in this country where you would want to have someone lose their job because of their choice about the vaccine or not?" he asked, adding: ”We will fight that.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody hinted at legal action. Biden “does not have the legal authority to force vaccines on millions of Americans. His proposal is outrageous and unlawful,” she tweeted. “I will be closely watching these developments and taking any and all action within the authority of my office to stop this unprecedented power grab.”
“While I personally have chosen to receive and support vaccination, the President has legally dubious authority to mandate private businesses to make medical decisions for their employees,” agreed U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Daytona Beach.
“This is what you get electing people who support socialism. They want government controlling, compelling & mandating what people do,” Florida U.S. Sen. Rick Scott tweeted. “I encourage America’s job creators – large and small – to challenge this insane ‘order.’ We cannot allow this unhinged administration to do even more irreparable harm to American workers, businesses and our economy.”
State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, who pre-filed a 2022 bill – House Bill 75 – that would prohibit the state or “any political subdivision” from enacting mask mandates, is calling for a special session.
“Florida MUST call a special session to nullify Biden‘s vaccine mandates. Any federal official attempting to impose them should be arrested on the spot and prosecuted under Florida law,” he tweeted. “No more defense — we need OFFENSE. Issuing statements & lawsuits is NOT enough.”
Biden’s plan drew praise from Florida Democrats.
State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is seeking the Democratic nod to challenge DeSantis in 2024, thanked Biden for “having our backs” and U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, said such measures are necessary to protect the economy.
“The pandemic of the unvaccinated is filling our hospitals, putting our kids at risk, and hurting our economy,” Soto tweeted. “Under @POTUS' leadership, we will use a science-based approach to stop the spread of the Delta variant and return to prosperity.”
U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Orlando, who is challenging Florida’s senior Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in 2022, said with “more than 13,000 Floridians hospitalized with severe COVID-19,” Biden’s plan is needed.
“@POTUS’s plan will get more people vaccinated, decrease hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, and keep schools and our economy open. When Americans care for each other and work together, we are unstoppable. Let’s get it done!” Demings tweeted Friday.