Monday, October 9, 2023

Feds Had $3.3B Furniture Splurge During COVID, Bought Solar-Powered Picnic Tables, Leather Recliners; Biden Vaccine Mandates Are History, but Court Battles Live On, and other C-Virus related stories

Feds had $3.3B furniture splurge during COVID, bought solar-powered picnic tables, leather recliners:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spent $237,960 on roughly 30 solar-powered picnic tables while the vast majority of its workforce stayed home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The State Department paid more than $117,250 for as many as 40 luxurious Ethan Allen leather recliners to fill its embassy building in Islamabad, Pakistan.
And the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency spent $284,000 and $213,828, respectively, to spruce up their mostly empty conference rooms.
The extravagant purchases were all part of an eye-popping $3.3 billion federal agencies spent on new office furniture between 2020 and 2022, a watchdog report exclusively obtained by The Post shows.
The taxpayer watchdog revealed the furniture splurge in a study published Tuesday, which also cited a Government Accountability Office report that found 17 of the 24 federal agencies are using as little as 9% and as much as 49% of their building capacities well into the fourth year of the pandemic.
In total, the agencies spent more than $1 billion per year on the plush decor — a rate consistent with pre-pandemic levels despite departments filling just a quarter of their available space on average.
In one particularly “egregious example,” the group said the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation spent nearly $15 million on new furniture — or $14,400 for each of its 1,000 employees.
The Environmental Protection Agency also shelled out $6.5 million for trendy furniture even as it downsized to move into a 300,000-square-foot office space at Four Penn Central in Philadelphia.
All agencies forked over a combined $26 million to furnish their conference rooms, as most federal employees resorted to virtual telecommunications meetings.
OpenTheBooks founder and CEO Adam Andrzejewski said the audit highlights the need for closer scrutiny of federal spending as Congress considers further government funding in the coming weeks. --->READ MORE HERE
Photo: Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle/Associated Press
Biden Vaccine Mandates Are History, but Court Battles Live On:
The administration is seeking to erase judicial rulings against its vaccination requirements now that mandates are no longer in effect
President Biden months ago stopped requiring people who work or do business with the federal government to get Covid-19 shots. But the legal fight over his vaccine mandates has raged on, with potentially significant consequences for the public-health powers of future presidents.
The Biden administration is seeking to put an end to a number of still-pending lawsuits challenging vaccination rules it issued at the height of the pandemic. It is also seeking to wipe out lower court rulings that rejected some of the mandates as unlawful.
Among the continuing battles, the Supreme Court could decide as soon as next month whether to grant a request from the Justice Department to erase an appeals court ruling upholding an injunction that blocked the president’s order that millions of federal workers be vaccinated against Covid to keep their jobs.
Activists against the pandemic measures aren’t relenting either, as they pursue more definitive pronouncements from the courts against government-mandated vaccination. They are also trying to preserve previous injunctions against the requirements as lasting legal precedent to guard against any return of the vaccine rules.
Biden issued an executive order in 2021 ramping up his administration’s push to get the country vaccinated. The requirements in the order initially covered some 100 million public and private workers and met resistance from employees who didn’t trust the safety or effectiveness of the newly developed vaccines or objected to the shots for religious reasons.
Opponents brought a wave of lawsuits claiming that the president’s order lacked legal authority and that workers had a right to be unvaccinated. The cases raised questions that had rarely been tested in court.
By the time the Covid national emergency formally ended this spring, the mandates had lost much of their force. The Supreme Court last year blocked the administration’s Covid-19 vaccine-or-testing rules for large private employers. The justices declined to block another mandate covering federally funded healthcare workers, but that requirement ended this year.
Appeals courts dealt setbacks to the president’s mandates for federal employees and contractors, though those cases were never fully resolved. Questions about the rights of religious objectors, raised in lawsuits by U.S. armed service members subjected to vaccine rules, also remain unsettled. --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

Can Employers Require Employees to Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19?

COVID Map Shows Four States, Territories With Highest Positive Test Ratesc

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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