Biden accused of playing politics with Florida funding in pro-union push

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FIRST ON FOX: President Biden’s administration is being questioned about $800 million in federal funds that are allegedly being withheld from Florida in response to an enacted law that was opposed by unions in the state. 

“The Department of Labor is threatening Florida and other states that may seek to empower workers and increase union transparency, in violation of federal law. This is completely unacceptable,” Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ranking member Bill Cassidy, R-La., said in a statement. “This is yet another example of the Biden administration weaponizing its enforcement power to tip the scale in favor of its political allies – not the American worker.” 

The lawmaker penned a letter to Acting Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Julie Su on Thursday, requesting that she provide “any and all legal analysis justifying the DOL overriding DOT’s grant decision by withholding $800 million in federal grant funding from the State of Florida.”

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Ron DeSantis, Joe Biden

President Biden is being accused of withholding federal funding from Florida due to a law being enacted that public sector unions were against. At left is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. (.)

According to a suit filed by Florida against the Biden administration last year, Florida entities were contacted by the DOL days before a state law preventing unions from taking dues directly out of paychecks went into effect. The department said the law “jeopardizes [their] continued eligibility to receive Federal Transit Administration Funding,” per the complaint. 

In the October 2023 complaint, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody noted that the Florida Public Transportation Association expects Florida entities to receive nearly $800 million in funding through the Federal Transit Act over the course of several years. 

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AG Ashley Moody

Moody sued the Biden administration over the funding holdup. (.)

However, “The Department of Labor has given Florida an ultimatum: abandon the reforms enacted through SB 256 or lose hundreds of millions in federal funding,” she alleged. 

The law signed in 2023 specifically addresses public employee unions and the rights of workers to join and leave them. It also prohibits unions from taking dues out of members’ salaries. Among public worker unions, the reform was widely opposed.

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Julie Su testifies at Senate hearing

Su was a controversial nominee. (Chip Somodevilla / .)

In Moody’s complaint, she noted that as a condition for eligibility for federal funding, states must ensure that arrangements are “fair and equitable” for workers and that their rights to collective bargaining are protected. “To be clear, Florida has no intention of abolishing the collective bargaining rights of transportation workers,” the Florida attorney general said.

But she added that “the Biden Administration reads the phrase ‘continuation of collective bargaining rights’ in § 5333(b) to mean that Florida cannot enact reasonable regulations governing the collective bargaining process.”

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Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy

Cassidy is ranking member of the HELP committee. (Kevin Dietsch / .)

“The Florida statute merely ensures that the state’s public employees can freely choose whether to join or remain in a union. In fact, the right to join a labor union and bargain collectively is enshrined in the Florida Constitution,” Cassidy echoed in his letter. 

In addition to asking for the department’s legal analysis, the senator further requested the criteria the DOL uses to determine what “fair and equitable” means in this circumstance, communications regarding the decision to withhold funding, and its reasoning as to why a temporary waiver can’t be issued. 

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Fox News Digital reached out to the White House and DOL for comment.

Cassidy’s assertion that Biden’s administration is withholding the funds to please his political allies comes as the president looks to shore up his union support going into the 2024 election. Former President Trump has proven a formidable opponent when it comes to workers, making his own effort to target the Democrat-leaning demographic of union workers.

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