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Wisconsin Republicans have been fighting for months to limit or eliminate unemployment benefits for their state in the face of the coronavirus. But they’ve found one group they want to help: the unvaccinated.
Wisconsin GOP lawmakers are circulating a bill that would allow people who lose their jobs because they refuse to get that COVID-19 vaccination to collect unemployment benefits, WKOW reported.
That proposal comes just weeks after Republicans attempted to end enhanced unemployment benefits for people who are out of work during the pandemic. The GOP-controlled state legislature has been trying for months to block federal funds that increase the top unemployment payouts in the state from $370 to $670 a week, and fell just short of overriding Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ veto of their bill to do just that in late July. Their argument is that the extra money is convincing people to stay home rather than look for work, leading to a tight job market.
Their new bill would make it so getting fired from a job for refusing to get a COVID vaccine wouldn’t bar people from collecting unemployment. That would secure money for people who refuse vaccines—the group that’s causing the surge in COVID cases in the state and across the country.
Wisconsin, like much of the U.S., is experiencing a major surge in COVID cases. The state’s COVID-19 case average is 1,104 a day, up 40% from the week before and an 11-fold increase from a month ago.
Wisconsin Republicans have from the start refused to take the coronavirus seriously. They blocked Evers’ efforts to move the state’s primary last spring as the pandemic first deluged the country, forcing people to trudge to the polls and causing chaos. They sued to end Evers’ stay-at-home order, winning in state court. And they’ve repeatedly sought to end Evers’ statewide indoor mask mandate.
Democrats panned their latest proposal.
“It seems Republicans only want to give unemployment benefits to the very people who are putting our state at risk for another crushing wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations by refusing to get vaccinated," Democratic state Rep. Mark Spreitzer told WKOW.
Evers told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he would veto the bill if it passes.
Wisconsin Republicans have been fighting for decades to curtail unemployment aid. Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson’s welfare overhauls in the early 1990s slashed state benefits (and became a model for national GOP proposals). But that wasn’t far enough for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who in 2013 made it even harder for people to apply for unemployment benefits.