vos/fitzgerald

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republican legislative leaders said for the first time Wednesday that they support temporarily waiving a one-week waiting period for people to receive unemployment benefits as part of a state aid package in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a conference call that work was ongoing on a legislative aid package that would supplement the federal stimulus that is bringing about $2.3 billion to Wisconsin.

About 240,000 Wisconsin workers have filed for unemployment benefits since March 15.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has pushed for a permanent waiving of the one-week waiting period. Vos and Fitzgerald both said there was broad support among Republicans who control the Legislature to temporarily waive the waiting period.

Republicans last year rejected doing away with the waiting period as Evers wanted.

“Everybody understands that people need help right now for people who lost their jobs,” Fitzgerald said.

The lawmakers did not say when the Legislature would be returning to take up the bill. Evers floated a roughly $700 million aid package that Republicans dismissed. They are working on an alternative in discussions with Evers.

“Our hope is to get a bill that everyone can vote for,” Vos said. “The goal would be to have that as soon as we can.”

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