Hastings Leads Florida Democrats in Letter to Secretary Satter Raising Concerns Over Florida’s Unemployment Insurance Program; Requesting Conference Call

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Fort Lauderdale, FL, May 7, 2020 | comments
Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) led Democratic members of the Florida Congressional Delegation in writing to Secretary of the Florida Department of Management Services Jonathan Satter, requesting an opportunity to schedule a conference call to discuss the critical issue of Florida’s unemployment insurance program and the currently overwhelmed state-operated website used to register for unemployment benefits. Joining Hastings in signing the letter were Representatives: Kathy Castor (D-FL), Charlie Crist (D-FL), Val Demings (D-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Al Lawson (D-FL), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Donna Shalala (D-FL), Darren Soto (D-FL), and Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL). (Please find a copy of the letter below and attached.)

May 7, 2020

Secretary Jonathan Satter
Officer of the Secretary
4050 Esplanade Way
Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Dear Secretary Satter:

As Members of the Florida Congressional delegation, we write to request an opportunity to schedule a conference call to discuss the critical issue of Florida’s unemployment insurance program and the state-operated website used to register for unemployment benefits. We respectfully request that this call take place as soon as possible.  

As you are aware, the number of unemployed Floridians continues to increase dramatically, with more than 1,115,000 unique unemployment claims filed between March 15th and May 5th. While the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity recently announced that payments have been dispersed to nearly half a million claimants, more than half of all Floridians who have submitted claims—and many who have been unable to access the system at all—have yet to receive any form of assistance since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

Understandably, our Congressional offices continue to be inundated with phone calls, emails, and letters from constituents desperate for help with unemployment benefits. In recent weeks, we have been contacted by thousands of constituents expressing similar frustrations—being unable to access the state unemployment website despite trying consistently for weeks, being unable to reach anyone at the state unemployment office to check the status of claims, having claims left pending for more than a month, being instructed to resubmit claims more than six weeks after successfully filing for assistance, receiving benefits far short of what should be provided, or not receiving any benefits despite having claims approved. It is quite simply unacceptable that so many workers in Florida who lost their jobs through no fault of their own continue to struggle to make rent, pay their bills, and feed their families, while being forced to endure endless bureaucratic delays—or being ignored outright.

Respecting your time and understanding the pressing need to update and repair Florida’s unemployment website, we again request to arrange a time to discuss the myriad of issues surrounding Florida’s unemployment program and the state-operated website with you. Additionally, we respectfully urge you to consider appointing a Congressional Liaison to ensure a clear line of communication between your office and Florida’s Congressional delegation. We appreciate your attention to this critically important matter and look forward to the opportunity to hold a conference call with you very soon.

Cc: The Honorable Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida 

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Vice-Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.

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