(WIBX) - US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, (D) NY, is urging Congress to continue benefits for the nation's nearly 13-milllion unemployed.

She is calling for a full continuation of federal provisions while the national unemployment rate remains high.

In what has become a more controversial issue, the 14-senators who signed the letter say they would oppose what they consider "demeaning" tests that may be imposed on those seeking unemployment insurance in the future, including drug testing.  Benefits average $300 per week.  It is estimated that there are four people looking for work for every job opening in the economy.

Gillibrand said the continuation is vital to making certain that American families aren't "cut off and left out in the cold."