Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Thursday that the state government will sue the federal government for the Conditional Sailing Order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“This unprecedented year-long lockdown of an entire industry by the federal government has directly harmed the State of Florida, its citizens, and their families, resulting in the loss of billions of dollars in economic activity,” the governor’s office noted.
“We must allow our cruise liners and their employees to get back to work and safely set sail again,” said DeSantis. “To be clear, no federal law authorizes the CDC to indefinitely impose a nationwide shutdown of an entire industry. This lawsuit is necessary to protect Floridians from the federal government’s overreach and resulting economic harm to our state.”
DeSantis and his team insisted that the federal government’s efforts to limit cruises during the pandemic have hurt the Sunshine State.
“The CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order harms the state and its citizens in at least four ways: preventing numerous businesses and employees from earning a living; contributing to our state’s unemployment; exacerbating the massive shortfalls in revenues experienced by our state’s seaports; and reducing state and local taxes associated with the cruise industry,” the governor’s office maintained.
The governor’s office cited a report from the Federal Maritime Commission which showed during the first six months of the pandemic, Florida’s cruise industry lost out on more than $3.2 billion in economic activity, costing the state almost 50,000 jobs.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is supporting the governor’s efforts.
“Cruises are a vital part of Florida’s tourism industry—employing thousands and boosting our state’s economy. Every day the federal government unfairly keeps this economic giant docked, our economy suffers. The ripple effect of this misguided federal lockdown has far-reaching implications for the cruise industry, international tourism, businesses that would benefit from the influx of visitors, our state’s economy and the thousands of Floridians who work in the industry,” said Moody. “But what is even worse than the economic damage caused by this heavy-handed federal overreach is the precedent being set by an eager-to-regulate Biden administration that is unfairly singling out and keeping docked our cruise industry on the basis of outdated data. Our litigation seeks to end this federal overreach and allow Floridians to safely get back to work and travel.”
Last month, Republicans in the Florida delegation–including U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Gimenez, Bill Posey, John Rutherford, Maria Elvira Salazar and Michael Waltz–sent a letter to Jeffrey Zients, the White House COVID response coordinator, calling on the Biden administration to offer more guidance so cruises can resume operations.
Gimenez weighed in on DeSantis’ challenge on Thursday.
“The unwillingness of the CDC to adapt its guidelines to the ever-changing nature of the country’s pandemic response unrelentlessly destroys an industry that generates hundreds of thousands of jobs and several billions of dollars to our economy. These federal bureaucrats, who have no concept of what is actually happening out in the real world, have never had to face the reality of a prolonged furlough or have had their job jeopardized by the pandemic,” said Gimenez. “ I guarantee if it were their job on the line and they had to handle the things hardworking Americans have had to face ahead of this pandemic, they would find the solution and rectify this issue immediately. It is time to hold the CDC and this administration accountable for the damages they are committing against these hardworking Americans and for what they are doing to our local economies. I applaud Attorney General Ashley Moody for filing this lawsuit and Governor Ron DeSantis for backing these efforts.”
Earlier in the week, Scott pushed the CDC to offer more guidance on when cruise ships can sail again.
“Our cruise lines have waited months for updated guidance from the CDC, while so many other industries were able to reopen safely. While the CDC finally released some updated guidance for this important industry, they still haven’t answered my call to provide the cruise line industry with a timeline of when they can begin sailing, which is urgently needed,” Scott said.
Scott pointed to the important role the cruise industry has in the Sunshine State.
“The cruise industry is critical to the success of Florida’s economy, as well as other states, and should be able to safely resume operations. This is about more than one industry, it’s about our ports, our restaurants, and an entire economic chain throughout the United States with thousands of jobs on the line. The cruise industry, and the communities that rely on it, deserve a clear timeline from the CDC on when they can resume operations. I’ll continue working with my colleagues on real solutions to bring back our cruise industry safely,” Scott said.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.