Florida Senators Divided on Unemployment Benefits

Jan 8, 2014

Credit NASA HQ PHOTO / Gage Skidmore

Florida’s two US senators split their votes on legislation to extend long term unemployment benefits. 

In 2007 Florida’s unemployment rate was just over 3%. Then the economy went south and more than eleven percent of the state’s workforce couldn’t find jobs. Things are improving, but about 73,000 Floridians stopped receiving federal benefits when Congress allowed long term unemployment benefits to expire in December. Republicans accuse Democrats of using the issue to score political points. But Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson argues people still need the benefit.

“Have a little bit to tide them over now that the economy is rebounding and businesses are starting to hire but they have no source of income until they can get that job", said Nelson. "This is not a matter of politics this is a matter of common sense and helping someone in need.”

Republican Senator Marco Rubio opposed the legislation. He and the majority of his party say the focus should be on job training programs. Rubio also contends the measure needs to be offset with spending cuts elsewhere. The Senate overcame a procedural hurdle but still has to hold a vote later this week on final passage of the extension of unemployment benefits.