EXCLUSIVE: Members of the Florida Republican Congressional Delegation on Friday called reports of President Biden considering travel restrictions to the Sunshine State amid the coronavirus pandemic “unequivocally unconstitutional.”
“As members of the Florida Republican Congressional Delegation, we are concerned about recent reports that your Administration is considering implementing travel restrictions to our beloved home, the Sunshine State,” Republican lawmakers lead by Rep. Byron Donalds, and including Greg Steube, and Kat Cammack, wrote to Biden in a letter on Friday. “This decision not only lacks merit but is also unequivocally unconstitutional and reeks of partisanship that will only cause reprehensible damage to our state and the more than 21 million Americans who call Florida home.
SEN. RUBIO CALLS BIDEN OFFICIALS HYPOCRITICAL FOR CONSIDERING TRAVEL BAN DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
The lawmakers said that any potential plan to restrict travel to Florida “demonstrates an egregious abuse of power,” saying that it would be a move “that has no standing in science nor law.”
“As the third-largest state in the union, Florida has felt the pain of this pandemic particularly hard. Fortunately, through reasoned leadership and common sense, we have maintained a significantly lower death rate per capita than several states, including New York, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Texas, and even Washington, D.C.,” they wrote. “As a nation, we have learned a tremendous amount about mitigating the damage inflicted upon the American people’s health and safety and the economic hardship caused by lockdowns and government mandates.”
The Republicans said that in Florida, the state has been able to “lessen the financial blow to our small and large businesses by giving Floridians the freedom to go about their daily lives safely and responsibly.”
“Our state is known for its pristine beaches, robust entertainment industry, and relaxed lifestyle that attracts millions of seasonal residents and tourists,” they wrote. “Many across our country continue to appreciate Florida’s response to the pandemic juxtaposed to the authoritarian measures in many blue states that have shown little to no success in controlling the virus.”
They added that “more critical than instituting unprecedented restrictions on interstate travel,” is the “millions of Floridians, especially our seniors, desperately need your Administration to focus its energy on increasing access to the vaccine.”
“During this pandemic, it is vitally important that we follow the UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION while also following the science and not issues orders that limit the American people’s freedoms,” they wrote. “In Florida, we are doing just that.”
The lawmakers praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, saying Florida has vaccinated more than 1 million seniors and continues to prioritize those most vulnerable throughout the state.
“Far too many families and livelihoods have felt the pandemic’s unbearable pain, and any plan to ban travel to our state will only exacerbate this feeling,” they wrote, adding that Florida constituents “need to know their President will not take any misguided actions, such as the reported travel ban directly targeted at Florida.”
They added: “Right now, we need steady leadership and a heightened focus on increasing access to the COVID-19 vaccine. We look forward to playing an integral role in making this a reality.”
The letter comes after DeSantis, this week, also lashed out at the Biden administration following media reports the White House may seek domestic travel bans to counter new strains of COVID-19 from spreading nationwide.
“Any attempt to restrict or lock down Florida by the federal government would be an attack on our state, done purely for political purposes,” the Florida Republican said during press conference.
FLORIDA GOV. DESANTIS CALLS THREATS OF DOMESTIC TRAVEL BAN ‘UNCONSTITUTIONAL, UNWISE, UNJUST’
“It would be unconstitutional. It would be unwise and it would be unjust,” he added, saying the move was not based on science but rather a “political attack” against the people of Florida.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was pressed during a Thursday press briefing about the administration’s alleged consideration of a domestic travel ban.
“We are always considering what steps are necessary to keep the American people safe, but we are not currently in the process of — no decisions have been made around additional public health measures that would delay or would change, I should say, domestic travel considerations,” Psaki said.
But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Florida leads in the number of cases of the new B.1.1.7 strain – a more highly infectious variant of the coronavirus, first reported in the U.K.
Health officials are worried the new strains of the coronavirus that have emerged could sideline progress made by the vaccine, as the new variants require different treatments and change “the effectiveness of current vaccines,” the CDC has warned.
Meanwhile, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio also reacted to reports, calling Biden “hypocritical.”
“The day after Donald Trump issued a travel ban on China, Joe Biden said this is no time for xenophobia and that sort of thing,” Rubio told “Fox & Friends.”
Rubio added: “And then a month later, he actually tweeted out that banning travel from anywhere did not work.”
Rubio also slammed the Biden administration for considering restricting travel between states within the country.
“So now that they’re considering actual restrictions on Americans inside the country, I think it is unconstitutional,” Rubio said. “I think it’s going to be challenged in court successfully.”
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall and Joshua Nelson contributed to this report.