Image via WikipediaA bill to extend expiring unemployment benefits to nearly 50,000 Floridians is held up in the U.S. Senate due to Bunning's objections, his political agenda of "No."
Kendrick Meek: "Florida's families are experiencing insult after injury because ideology is trumping public policy. This is what happens when politicians put party philosophy first, and people last."
Nearly 50,000 Floridians will lose their unemployment benefits in the coming weeks because one U.S. Senator is holding up legislation extending unemployment benefits to out of work Americans.
"Florida's families are experiencing insult after injury because ideology is trumping public policy. This is what happens when politicians put party philosophy first, and people last," said Kendrick Meek, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. "Hard working Floridians didn't cause this recession, but they are paying for it. This pain is evident with every Florida family I meet and in every small business I enter. Floridians deserve relief and instead they are becoming casualties of an ideological battle that has nothing to do with our everyday lives."
The House of Representatives voted unanimously last week to temporarily extend unemployment benefits for out of work Americans.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Senator Bunning's parliamentary maneuvering today, noting: "Many Republican leaders, cognizant of the political peril surrounding Mr. Bunning's action, quietly distanced themselves. But others, including Arizona's Jon Kyl, the Senate's second-ranking Republican, supported Mr. Bunning's right to raise the cost issue."
Asked Kendrick Meek campaign manager Abe Dyk: "With so many Floridians negatively affected because of the actions of one senator, do Florida's Republican Senate candidates Governor Charlie Crist and former Speaker Marco Rubio side with Senator Jim Bunning or do they stand with Floridians and their families who desperately rely on these benefits to survive? The Republican Party's dysfunction in Washington should not trickle into the homes of Florida's families."
The press release issued by the U.S. Labor Department announcing how states will be affected by this inaction appears below:
US Labor Department releases state-by-state figures on number of Americans who stand to lose unemployment benefits without congressional extension of program
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Labor today released state-by-state figures on the number of individuals who will lose their unemployment benefits in the coming days if Congress fails to extend unemployment insurance benefits.
If Emergency Unemployment Compensation and full federal funding for the Extended Benefit program are not extended, 400,000 Americans will lose unemployment benefits during the first weeks in March. By May, nearly 3 million people could be left without these benefits. Furthermore, if the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act subsidy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is not extended, thousands of families will lose access to affordable health care.
If the extension is not approved, an estimated 500,000 workers who lose their jobs will be ineligible for subsidies to cover the cost of health care over this month. Over the rest of 2010, an estimated 5 million workers will be ineligible for the Recovery Act COBRA subsidy that covers 65 percent of the cost of coverage. Without this assistance, many of these families will be forced to join the ranks of the uninsured.
"It is essential that Congress extend the unemployment insurance and COBRA subsidy programs that are part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The consequences of partisan obstructionism could not be clearer. If the extension is not approved immediately, millions of Americans could lose the safety net programs they deserve and desperately need."
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill to temporarily extend crucial benefits -- including unemployment insurance. In the Senate chamber, however, Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky is blocking the extension. Senate leadership has called for the Senate to unanimously move this package on multiple occasions, but Sen. Bunning has blocked the process each time.
Without an extension, the number of Americans who lose unemployment insurance benefits will increase to 1.5 million within a month. Within two months, nearly 3 million Americans will have lost their benefits. Even if Congress acts down the road to retroactively reinstate UI benefits, a gap in the program forces administrative burdens onto states, which may cause significant delays in getting checks to unemployed individuals.
Projected unemployment insurance exhaustions (by state) as result of no congressional extension of the program
STATE UI Claimants Not Eligible for
Week ending March 13
District of Columbia 600
New Hampshire 0
New Jersey 0
New Mexico 0
New York 54,300
North Carolina 0
North Dakota 500
Puerto Rico 0
Rhode Island 0
South Carolina 14,400
South Dakota 300
Virgin Islands 100
West Virginia 2,600
Note: State estimates may not add to the national total. State and national figures are calculated separately to allow the use of the best available data to develop estimates for each state.