President Joe Biden is due to sign two executive orders on Friday designed to reduce hunger and empower workers’ rights during the coronavirus pandemic as his administration urges Congress to pass another major coronavirus aid package.
A White House move urges the federal government to offer every possible relief through “existing authority,” Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, told reporters on Thursday evening. The other calls for “the empowerment of federal workers and contractors”.
The orders included multiple tools to offer aid during the pandemic as Biden seeks to advance his $ 1.9 trillion proposal through Congress.
- Biden will ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider giving states access to enhanced benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as the country faces a hunger crisis that has been unseen for decades.
- The USDA will also investigate a 15% increase in the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program, which replaces meals for low-income children who would otherwise be fed in school.
- The President will urge the Treasury Department to use tools to more efficiently deliver the direct payments approved by Congress to eligible individuals. The White House said up to 8 million people failed to receive the first $ 1,200 stimulus check, passed in March.
- Biden will urge the Department of Labor to establish rules that make it clear that workers have the right to refuse jobs that endanger their health during the pandemic – without forfeiting unemployment benefits.
- The president asked his administration to prepare a potential executive order that he would like to sign in his first 100 days in office, which requires federal entrepreneurs to offer a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour and paid emergency leave.
- Biden will revoke the executive orders issued by former President Donald Trump that the White House has harmed workers’ collective bargaining power and repeal a rule that restricts health and safety for civil servants.
- He will ask the agencies to review which federal employees are making less than $ 15 an hour.
Deese stressed that the orders and others signed this week to provide immediate relief cannot replace another Congressional relief package.
“These measures are not a substitute for major legislative easing … but they will provide a vital lifeline for millions of American families,” he told reporters.
The executive measures fit Biden’s early drive to contain the outbreak and mitigate its damage to the economy. He signed a series of orders on Thursday designed to encourage the wearing of masks and streamline the production of Covid vaccines and protective equipment, among other things.
His actions on the first day of Wednesday included extending a federal eviction moratorium through March and a break in federal student loan payments and interest accumulation through September. Both pandemic relief efforts would have expired by the end of the month.
Biden has been trying to boost the economy through executive orders while trying to get Congress to pass the $ 1.9 trillion bailout package. Republicans have begun to express doubts about supporting another relief bill after Congress passed a $ 900 billion bill last month.
Democrats who control a 50:50 Senate through Vice President Kamala Harris’ runoff must win 10 GOP votes for the plan or use a budget vote that only requires a majority. The White House has said Biden wants to pass law with the support of both parties.
The Biden administration has warned that the US economic recovery could be faltering, stressing that the risk of spending too much is less than the risk of spending too little. Another 900,000 people filed unemployment claims for the first time last week, and around 16 million people received benefits, the Ministry of Labor said on Thursday.
A $ 300 per week unemployment benefit included in the latest relief bill expires on March 14th. Biden’s plan is to extend unemployment benefits by $ 400 a week through September.
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