Eleven States Challenge Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate

Eleven States with Republican governors are challenging the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors between two lawsuits filed Thursday and Friday.

The state of Florida filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in the Tampa Division seeking an injunction on the mandate with a Dec. 8 deadline for millions of federal contractor employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Then on Friday, Missouri, Nebraska, Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming filed a similar demand in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri also requesting a court order.

“We cannot allow the federal government to come in, exceeding its power,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said during a news conference Thursday. “They are really rewriting contracts and turning normal hiring into basically public health policy and that is not something that Congress has authorized.” He noted that there is “a very large footprint in Florida” in federal hiring, such as with NASA and the General Services Administration, and said he is concerned about job losses for those who refuse to get vaccinated.

“Florida hopes to continue seeking government contracts in the future,” the lawsuit said. “Because Florida employees are generally not required to be vaccinated, the contested actions threaten Florida with the loss of millions of dollars in future hiring opportunities and put undue pressure on Florida to create new policies and change existing ones, each one of which threatens Florida with imminent irreparable harm. ”

Florida’s lawsuit alleges 10 counts of violations of federal hiring laws and administrative procedures, at odds with executive order, Federal Safer Workforce Task Force guidance, Office of Management and Budget rule that approves the guidance and guidance of the Federal Procurement Regulatory Council.

“Other lawsuits have preceded this one, although this new challenge focuses more on federal procurement and administrative law than others we have reviewed to date,” said Craig Smith, a partner at the Wiley Rein law firm, which specializes in contractors. governmental. Government Executive. Christina Pushaw, DeSantis press secretary, said Government Executive that, to his knowledge, Florida was the first state to sue the Biden administration over the contractor’s vaccination mandate.

“President Biden has given the executive branch the unilateral power to order that all employees of federal contractors be vaccinated,” says the lawsuit from the other 10 states. “Employees of federal contractors make up one-fifth of the total American workforce. And the mandate goes so far as to require vaccination even of employees who work entirely within their own home. That is unconstitutional, illegal and reckless. ”His lawsuit has 12 counts of alleged violations of the law.

Attorneys general from eight of those 10 states were among 21 AGs who sent a letter to Biden challenging the vaccine mandate for federal contractors, WLOX. reported.

David Berteau, president and CEO of the Council for Professional Services, which represents more than 400 companies, said Government Executive the association is “looking [the cases] closely, but in the meantime, the important thing to keep in mind is that you have a signed contract, and … you are going to comply with the clause. That’s the way contracts work. “This applies in other situations, such as government closings, where” just because the client is not open does not mean they stop working on their contract. “

The National Defense Industrial Association, which represents defense contractors, did not comment on Florida’s initial lawsuit, but shared an opinion. message from its Chairman of the Board, Arnold Punaro, on October 15 on how he has engaged with the administration in the implementation of the mandate.

“The general message that emerges from these calls is that management is willing to take the risk that companies will lose some employees. They believe from their data that there will be “noise up front and compliance behind” as this directive is implemented, ”Punaro wrote to the association’s members. “Because we know that your workforce is your most valuable asset and one that is not easily replaced, NDIA disagrees. [that] The unnecessary loss of employees is an acceptable risk for our companies ”.

He added that NDIA leaders are gathering information from members on experiences with Defense recruiting officers, waiver issues or any other concerns, which will be consolidated and made anonymous, then sent to the department.

During the COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, Jeff Zients, White House coronavirus response coordinator, said once the term deadlines come, “we expect federal agencies and contractors to follow their standards [human resources] processes and that, for any of the probably relatively small percentage of employees that are not in compliance, they will go through education, counseling, adaptations and then compliance. “He added that” we are creating flexibility within the system and “the purpose, I think, more important, it is to vaccinate and protect people, not punish them. “

“This is a once-in-a-generation pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 700,000 Americans, and the President has pledged to pull all possible levers to save lives and stop the spread of the virus,” said an OMB spokesman. , in response. to the demands. OMB is one of the agencies charged in both lawsuits. “The vaccine requirements work: they are good for workers, good for the economy and good for the country. The president has the authority to promote efficiency in federal contracting in this manner. The Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have already determined that employers can require COVID vaccines. “

Leave a Comment