U.S. President Joe Biden is due to sign two executive ordinances Friday to provide a stopgap solution to struggling Americans as Congress ponders its proposed $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package.
United States President Joe Biden plans to take executive action on Friday to provide a stopgap measure to financial relief for millions of Americans as Congress begins considering its much larger $ 1.9 trillion package to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The two executive orders to be signed by Biden would increase food aid, protect job seekers from unemployment, and pave the way for federal workers and contractors to receive a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour.
“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. You need help and we are determined to do everything we can to provide that help as soon as possible. “
Deese stressed that the contracts are no substitute for the added incentive Biden claims to need beyond the $ 4 trillion already approved, including $ 900 billion last December. Several Republican lawmakers have opposed provisions in Biden’s plan for direct payments to individuals, state and local government grants, and a statewide minimum wage of $ 15 an hour.
Most economists believe the US can bounce back on its feet with strength once people are vaccinated against the coronavirus, but the situation is still dire as the disease has closed businesses and schools. Since February last year, nearly 10 million jobs have been lost and nearly 30 million households have no safe access to food.
One of Biden’s orders is asking the US Department of Agriculture to consider adjusting food aid rules so that the government could be required to provide more money to the hungry.
One of Biden’s orders is asking the US Department of Agriculture to consider adjusting food aid rules so that the government could be required to provide more money to the hungry [File: John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE]Children unable to get school meals due to distance learning could receive a 15 percent increase in food aid, according to an information 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 food costs could be more generous.
The order is also intended to make it easier for people to request direct payments from previous aid packages and other benefits. It would also guarantee that workers could continue to receive unemployment benefits if they refuse to take up a job that could endanger their health.
Biden’s second executive order would restore the right to trade union negotiations revoked by former President Donald Trump’s administration, protect the public service system, and promote a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour for all federal employees. The Democratic President also plans to launch a 100-day process on behalf of the federal government asking contractors to pay at least $ 15 an hour and providing workers with emergency paid leave, which could put pressure on other private employers to increase their wages and benefits.
These orders are arriving because the Biden White House has refused to provide a timetable for implementing its proposed aid package. Officials begin scheduling meetings with lawmakers to discuss the proposal.
Since February last year, nearly 10 million US jobs have been lost and nearly 30 million US households have no safe access to food [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press conference Thursday that the proposal would be supported by Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders through to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
But not all of the components of the package are popular with Republicans, and this could delay the transition in ways that could harm the economy. Psaki stressed that Biden wants every deal to be non-partisan and that the process of meeting lawmakers to discuss the plan is just beginning.
Biden has to weigh the need for immediate help against the risk of lengthy negotiations. Psaki said Biden would not take options off the table, but later added, “Part of the discussion we will have with members is what would you like to cut?”
Neil Bradley, the chamber’s chief policy officer, told reporters Thursday that Congress should act swiftly to approve the roughly $ 400 billion budget for national vaccinations and reopening schools and other elements of the plan with mutual support. instead of delaying negotiations.
“We’re not going to let areas of disagreement prevent progress in areas where we find common ground,” said Bradley. “We can’t afford six months to get the vaccination process up and running. We can’t even wait six weeks for the vaccinations to be distributed and schools to reopen.”