Millions of Americans not receiving unemployment aid

73,000 people struggling in Florida

Published On: Jan 22 2014 06:05:45 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 22 2014 08:31:13 PM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The new year has been a struggle for more than 1 million Americans who still haven't received their unemployment checks.

Congressional leaders left Washington D.C. last week on break without restoring unemployment aid because Republicans and Democrats still have not agreed how to fund it.

Here in Florida, there are 73,000 people finding it impossible to make ends meet without that biweekly check.

"Whenever I get into a situation, I always find a way to get out of it," said Don Chandler, a local man who's unemployed. "Not this one. There's just no where to go, no way to get out of it."

Chandler was laid off last August and says he and his wife depend on his unemployment check. His check for $494 is supposed to come every two weeks, but he hasn't seen one at all since the first of the year.

"We don't even have groceries in this house -- we don't have the money to pay to get groceries," said Chandler. 

Chandler for the first time ever turned to food banks for a solid meal. But as congressional leaders in Washington remain on break, the bills keep mounting up. 

"They don't care about the people," said Chandler. "they don't care if they are losing everything. They don't care if they are out on the streets."

The agreement on unemployment is delayed as Republicans and Democrats remain at odds about how to restore benefits; no deal was made before Congress adjourned last week. 

"It's one game after another," said Rep. Corrine Brown. "But how do you gamble with people's lives? I don't support it."

Brown said a deal is necessary now, and she wants the unemployment payments retroactive. But getting Congress to agree will still take a lot of negotiating. 

Congress is expected to be back to work on Monday. Brown is telling those affected to contact their representative directly.