President Joe Biden plans to take executive action on Saturday to provide a stopgap measure of financial relief to millions of Americans while Congress begins to consider his much larger $1.9-trillion package to help those affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
The two executive orders that Biden is to sign would increase food aid, protect job seekers on unemployment and clear a path for federal workers and contractors to get a $15 hourly minimum wage.
“The American people cannot afford to wait,” said Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council. “So many are hanging by a thread. They need help, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to provide that help as quickly as possible.”
Deese emphasized that the orders are not substitutes for the additional stimulus that Biden says is needed beyond the $4 rillion in aid that has already been approved, including $900 million last December. Several Republican lawmakers have voiced opposition to provisions in Biden’s plan for direct payments to individuals, state and local government aid and a $15 hourly minimum wage nationwide.
Most economists believe the United States can rebound with strength once people are vaccinated from the coronavirus, but the situation is still dire as the disease has closed businesses and schools. Nearly 10 million jobs have been lost since last February, and nearly 30 million households lack secure access to food.
One of Biden’s orders asks the Agriculture Department to consider adjusting the rules for food assistance, so that the government could be obligated to provide more money to the hungry.
Children who are unable to get school meals because of remote learning could receive a 15-percent increase in food aid, according to a fact sheet provided by the White House. The lowest-income households could qualify for the emergency benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. And the formula for calculating meal costs could become more generous. SOVEREIGNPH