MIAMI (CBS4) – Time is running out for more than 100 thousand Floridians who rely on extended unemployment benefits to survive.

Unless Congress changes its mind, benefits that had been extended up to 99 weeks will end begin running out as of Wednesday. So far Republicans and Democrats have not seen eye to eye on how best to extend them.

Republicans have said they’re willing to approve the extension through February, at a cost of $12.5 billion, but they want to pay for them by finding the money elsewhere in the federal budget. Democrats agree that they want to shrink the budget too, but this is not the time to battle over cost cutting when so many people rely on the extended benefits.

Lawmakers could have extended the benefits Tuesday, but Republicans blocked the vote. They said Democrats waited too long to act.

“It is not the way to do business in the U.S. Senate,” said Sen. Scott Brown/R- Mass. “And if it is, it needs to change.”

Fifty-three year old Earl Seawright’s unemployment insurance expired at midnight and he’s not sure what will happen now.

“I hope something will be done and they’ll be able to hear the voices of the people,” said Seawright.

Those on unemployment and looking for work may want to head to Miramar. ALDI is holding a job fair until 4 p.m. at the Hampton Inn located at 10990 Marks Way. The grocery chain is look for store manager trainees, workers and cashiers for their new store in Lauderdale Lakes and one which will open in Pembroke Pines on December 9th. Store manager trainees can make up to $20 per hour and cashiers $10 per hour in full and part time positions. Employees who work 20 hours per week or more are eligible for full benefits.

Unemployment insurance usually expires after 6 months, but Congress extended coverage for up to 99 weeks when the recession kicked-in.

Initial state unemployment claims, which include up to 26 weeks of benefits at a maximum of $275 per week in Florida, are not affected by the upcoming expiration of the extensions. The Labor Department estimates that without a Congress-approved extension about 2 million people will be cut off by Christmas.

Many economists say extending the benefits would be good for the economy since every dollar spent on unemployment generates nearly two dollars in economic activity because it is put back into the local economy immediately. They also point out that in addition to helping the people who receive them, unemployment payments help keep businesses in business by giving laid-off workers cash to spend.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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