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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Nelson, Rubio divided on unemployment benefit extension



UPDATE: The vote was put off until Tuesday.

The U.S. Senate this evening will take a procedural vote on extending unemployment benefits for three months, and Florida lawmakers represent the ideological divide on the issue.

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson supports the extension.

"As Sen. Nelson has said, it was wrong of Congress not to extend unemployment benefits. For those who have not been able to find a job for some time now, they absolutely needed that economic cushion," spokesman Ryan Brown said.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio opposes it, holding, as most Republicans do, that the cost should be offset with budget cuts. "He isn’t against unemployment insurance, but he thinks we should pay for them with spending cuts elsewhere and add new reforms to help people get back to work," spokesman Alex Conant said. (Rubio this week declared the war on poverty a failure.)

Conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action have urged Republicans to vote no. Democrats counter that past extensions have not come with cuts.

About 73,000 Florida residents (1.3 million nationally) lost unemployment benefits in late December as the safety net program expired due as Congress left for the holidays.

Officials say 3,665 additional Floridians will lose benefits each week during the first half of the year.

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 10:54am]


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