Carlos Guillermo Smith urges Senate to extend federal unemployment aid
Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, is asking the state's U.S. Senators to push for continued unemployment benefits amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Phil Sears)

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Federal aid expires at the end of July.

With the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments expiring in seven days, Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith is asking U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to extend the program.

Florida’s unemployment rate is still above 10% following the self-induced economic recession in the battle to suppress COVID-19 infections, but the $600 weekly federal supplement expires at the end of the month. Smith, an Orlando Democrat said benefits should carry through the end of the year as the pandemic continues with no end in sight.

He also placed blame on Scott for championing and signing legislation during his tenure as Governor that changed the state unemployment application process.

“Taking action to extend the crucial $600 supplemental federal benefit will not only save millions of Floridians from economic despair, but it’s also the least Florida’s Senators can do to begin making up for creating and championing an unemployment benefits program that was ‘designed to fail,'” Smith said, invoking current Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis has also deflected blame for hiccups in the state’s unemployment system from himself to a $77 million contract the Scott administration approved. He’s also asked Inspector General Melinda Miguel to investigate that contract.

Florida provides $275 per week in unemployment benefits for a maximum of 12 weeks. However, many jobless Floridians have already used their allotted weeks, and the Governor has declined to extend availability.

“Families cannot survive off of $275 per week – the maximum state unemployment benefit in Florida, also one of the lowest in the nation,” Smith said.

The federal supplement is the last major source of economic help from the $2 trillion relief package Congress approved in March. A small business lending program and one-time $1,200 payment have largely run their course.

But one sticking point for Senate Republicans trying to resolve their differences with the White House for continued economic assistance is how to cut the $600 weekly jobless benefit boost that is expiring.

Republicans largely believe the add-on, which had been approved in an earlier aid bill, is too much and becoming a disincentive for returning to work. In some situations, the boost gives the unemployed more money than if they were working. Under Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan, senators proposed cutting it to $200 and then transitioning over the next few months to a new system more closely linked to a state’s own payment levels.

A Trump administration official granted anonymity to discuss the private talks told The Associated Press the White House viewed the Senate GOP’s proposal as too “cumbersome” and the $200 boost as too high.

A number of different solutions were being discussed, the official said Thursday, including dropping the add-on to $100.

“Government is supposed to be there during times of crisis to offer a hand-up to those in need. That’s why I’ve been speaking out to lift up the voices of the unemployed,” Smith said. “What Floridians need from you now is leadership — not allegiance to an ideology or political party.”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


3 comments

  • kenneth

    July 25, 2020 at 7:56 pm

    How do you like Democrat Socialism? PORT, NY, CHI, ATL, WA, DC Minneapolis just to mention a few. All Democrat leadership doing the same thing…..nothing. Just like the third world isn’t it. Democrat Mayors ordering Police to stand down while the city is looted, burned. citizens beaten in the streets, monuments destroyed, police stations actually taken over and allowed to be occupied. The Governors do nothing as well. Antifa and BLM (founder is a Marxist) are the criminals behind this.

    Joe has recently stated that Police need to be defunded If Joe Biden is elected America will be on fire.

    Biden wants to “transform America” If you vote for Joe Biden, you are voting for Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren’s far left platform.. Joe will follow the radical left’s agenda or Joe won’t get the support (and he is) of Nancy Pelosi, Val Demings, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Valerie Jarrett,. Rashida Talib, Stacy Abrams, Ayanna Pressley, Nancy Pelosi, Sheila Jackson Lee, Tom Perez, Maxine Waters, Al Green, and llhan Omar.

    This is the core of the socialists leftist wing of the Democrat party and are firmly in charge not old , confused Joe Biden. Biden will be a puppet to a liberal VP, Pelosi, Schumer, AOC plus 3 and the rest..

    Democrats want to make this election all about President Trump. NOT their platform & Goals and Joe Biden for obvious reasons.

    Democrat Platform & Goals:

    *Citizenship for 20 to 50 million illegal aliens, DACA, TPS recipients and their families with a cost of billions.

    *Massive tax increases. All Democrat candidates have committed to tax increases of various amounts. Biden has stated he will raise taxes.

    *Sanctuary Cities & States. Joe Biden supports sanctuary cities.

    *Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Green new deal.(which would create massive unemployment, 100,000 jobs estimated in the transportation industry alone.) Joe Biden supports.

    *De-fund & terminate border patrol & ICE.

    *De-fund Police. “re-imagine law enforcement” (the left’s new term.) Basically BLM is determining where your taxes go and it’s not to law enforcement. Biden recently stated his endorsement of “redirecting law enforcement finds.”

    *Free Healthcare for Illegal aliens, DACA, TPS recipients (taxpayer funded with one estimate at 52 trillion) Joe Biden endorsed.

    *Ending of all private / employer based health care. “Medicare for all”, Feds run everything.

    *Illegal Aliens eligible for welfare & food stamps. (Elizabeth Warren’s plan adopted) Endorsed by Biden.

    *Reparations for race’s harmed by Caucasians. Joe Biden committed to support Sheila Jackson Lee’s reparations bill in the House. Basically a tax will be levied on all Caucasians in America. (you can’t make this stuff up)

    *Free college for all, including illegal aliens (taxpayer funded with estimates in the billions. Bernie Sanders plan adopted.

    *Decriminalization of illegal entry into our country.

    *Open Borders.

    *End all deportations of illegal aliens, if you get here, you stay. Bernie’s website calls it a “moratorium” on deportations.

    *Drivers Licenses for illegal aliens (already happening in states with Democrat leadership. Biden endorsed

    *Late term abortions up to 9 months.

    * Destruction and erasing our history.

    • Franz

      July 25, 2020 at 10:08 pm

      You are a churlish puppet regurgitating an outline found on most white extremist websites and social media accounts. Perhaps if you had a proper education you would have some insightful independent thoughts of your own. At least you know how to cut and paste so that would mean you could be a copy boy in the reichstag.

      Cheers

  • Sonja Fitch

    July 26, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    The absurd notion being floated by goptrumpers including Scott and Rubio that folks will never go back to work! You stupid imbecile! The Senate shall work 12 hours a day every day til we are through the pandemic! No recess! No breaks. Go to work! You are being paid! #TRUMPVIRUS. Is your job to serve and protect all of America! So stfu!

Comments are closed.


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