Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is among a small flank of conservative Republicans who made a failed attempt to stop the agreement Wednesday night that re-opened the federal government today.
But Rubio and other Tea Party-led Republicans are not about to end their opposition to the Affordable Health Care Act — or admit defeat. Rubio is blaming President Obama and Democrats for the federal shutdown that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
“I know of no one in my party who supported shutting down the government,” Rubio said just prior to Wednesday’s late-night vote. “On the contrary, we argued that we should fund the entire government except for one thing, ObamaCare.”
Rubio said that Democrats were given the choice of shutting down the federal government or defunding the Affordable Health Care Act.
Rubio said that Obama-led Democrats caused hardship and economic loss “just to save their pet project.”
Rubio’s position is in stark contrast to other members of the Florida congressional delegation.
“I am very grateful that we will avoid a default that would not only hurt the people of this country but that would irreparably damage the financial foundation of this nation,” said Democratic Sen. Sen. Bill Nelson, who called the shutdown the work of party “extremists.”
Republican Rep. Bill Young had also urged fellow members of Congress to approve a clean funding bill, with no strings attached. “The politics should be over," he told The Tampa Bay Times. "It's time to legislate."
More this morning…
Why isn't the jobless claims system working?: It’s turning out to be a real job to file for unemployment benefits using the new $63 million website the state of Florida launched this week to process claims and issue jobless benefits.
Although state officials are claiming that the new Connect system is doing its job, social media sites and unemployment offices have been filled with people experiencing problems and posting complaints. Up to 240,000 jobless Floridians are required to use the online system to receive benefits.
The Tampa Bay Times is describing Florida’s jobless benefits system as ranking “the lowest in granting aid.”
Applicants have said the system is not accepting their claims after they are filled out online, or that they are being blocked from the benefits page altogether. Phone lines for customer service are so jammed that people cannot get through for help. Some have driven over to the local unemployment offices, only to be told that they must get their claims filed online.
Michelle Mattock, a laid-off nursing assistant, told The Tampa Bay Times that she was laid off two weeks ago and has been unable to get benefits for herself and her son. She said she was “blocked” from the benefits page. Mattock said she has run out of money. "It's hopeless," she said. "There are no answers. Ever."
Prior to the new system coming online, the Department of Economic Opportunity had warned that the upgraded system would require longer waits and delays, as it is more secure and requires additional information from applicants.
Jolt for ratepayers: The Public Service Commission is expected to decide today on a proposal that would enable Duke Energy to raise rates to cover the costs of two failed nuclear power plants.
If approved, Duke Energy would be able to pass along $3.2 billion in costs to customers.
The money would cover costs associated with the retirement of the Crystal River plant after a failed upgrade, as well as losses from the proposed Levy County nuclear project, which failed to move forward. Duke would pay $1.5 billion.
Rep. Dwight Dudley was among those who testified at public hearings this week before utility regulators. He said Duke Energy ratepayers “are getting ripped off.”