President Joe Biden will sign another round of executive orders on Friday, these aimed at providing assistance for those facing food insecurity, protecting American workers and providing economic relief to struggling families.
Biden kicked off his presidency with a series of orders aimed at undoing much of President Donald Trump’s legacy and helping those devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday he will sign executive orders aimed at speeding up delivery of stimulus checks to families who haven’t received them and increasing food aid for children who normally rely on school meals as a main source of food.
He will also direct his administration to start the work that would allow him to issue an executive order to require federal contractors to pay a $15 minimum wage to their employees. The federal minimum wage has been at $7.25 an hour since 2009.
The pandemic has hit the American economy hard.
More than 10 million Americans are unemployed, 14 million renters are behind on payments, and 29 million adults – and at least 8 million children – are struggling with food insecurity.
Women, minorities and low-income service workers have been disproportionately impacted. Black and Hispanic workers face higher jobless rates than white workers.
‘We’re at a precarious moment in our economy,’ Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, told reporters on a call that previewed the orders. ‘The American people cannot afford to wait. So many are hanging by a thread.’
He noted Biden’s actions are not a substitute for comprehensive legislative relief, ‘but they will provide a critical lifeline to millions of American families.’
Video: Here are both sides of the $15 minimum wage debate (CNBC)
In one order, Biden will direct the Treasury Department to find new ways to get stimulus checks, including $600 checks passed in December and $1,200 checks passed in March, to as many as eight million Americans who have not yet received them.
He also will issue an order to direct the Department of Agriculture to help families with schoolchildren buy groceries by increasing the weekly value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, commonly known as food stamps, for about 12 million families.
It could provide a family with three children more than $100 of additional support every two months, the White House estimated.
‘USDA will consider issuing new guidance that would allow states to increase SNAP emergency allotments for those who need it most. This would be the first step to ensuring that an additional 12 million people get enhanced SNAP benefits to keep nutritious food on the table,’ a fact sheet distributed by the administration said.
Biden will also seek to allow workers to draw unemployment benefits if they quit jobs they fear are unsafe amid the pandemic by noting ‘that workers have a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that will jeopardize their health, and if they do so, they will still qualify for unemployment insurance,’ the White House fact sheet said.
His orders will overturn many of President Trump’s directives on issues pertaining to federal workers. The order also eliminates Schedule F, a class of worker that Trump had established that stripped federal workers of many job protections.
President Biden has made fighting the COVID pandemic his top priority while in office.
‘To a nation waiting for action, let me be clear on this point: Help is on the way,’ he said Thursday when he signed 10 executive orders related to the COVID pandemic.
He has signed more than two dozen orders related to the pandemic, addressing climate change and reversing Trump policies such as the so-called Muslim ban on travelers from certain countries and stopping the building of the border wall.
In addition to the executive orders, Biden is also pushing a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package that includes $1,400 stimulus payments, raising the national minimum wage to $15 an hour, extended jobless benefits, aid for state and local governments and money for a nationwide vaccination program.
Republicans said the package is too expensive.
Biden’s executive orders are designed to help ease people’s burdens while Congress works on the president’s legislative agenda.
He is expected to sign more in the coming days.