Florida Governor Calls on Congress to Pass Unemployment Relief

December 1, 2020 Updated: December 1, 2020

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has called on Congress to provide more aid for people who were made unemployed due to the ongoing CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.

Speaking to reporters from Kissimmee on Monday, DeSantis said that Congress should have voted on relief legislation “months ago.”

The central Florida city is home to thousands of Walt Disney World workers. On Wednesday, Walt Disney Co. said it would lay off about 32,000 workers, primarily at its theme parks, an increase from the 28,000 it announced in September, as the company struggles with limited customers due to the pandemic.

“The reason why a lot of people are unemployed is because of federal policies,” DeSantis said, reported Politico.

The Republican governor said Disney shut its parks “because of what these federal experts were saying to do.”

Earlier this month, Disney said it was furloughing additional workers from its theme park in Southern California due to uncertainty over when the state would allow parks to reopen.

Disney’s theme parks in Florida and those outside the United States reopened earlier this year without seeing new major CCP virus outbreaks but with strict social distancing, testing, and mask use.

The company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the layoffs will be in the first half of fiscal 2021.

DeSantis in September announced plans to terminate a Trump administration program that supports benefits for unemployed people in the state, because Florida’s jobless program lacked funds to continue qualifying for the federal assistance.

He joined state leaders like Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear in expressing concerns about the money required to meet the 25 percent state responsibility.

DeSantis told reporters on Aug. 11 that the state had obligated or spent all the stimulus money, and that the only other option was to borrow from the Department of Labor, which he said could bring legal challenges.

“I want make sure that there’s no legal risk for us. If someone were to challenge this, then we’d be left on the hook,” DeSantis said at the time.

The state last week saw a slight decrease in new unemployment claims. According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Florida reported an estimated 23,982 first-time jobless applications during the week that ended Nov. 21—376 fewer than the week prior.

Zachary Stieber and Reuters contributed to this report.