Hunger, Wages, Worker Protections: Economic Hardships Targeted Next
The executive orders President Joe Biden is expected to issue Friday aim to put stopgap financial relief measures in place until — and if — a larger legislative aid package can be negotiated.
Biden To Sign Order To Increase Pandemic-Related Food Aid
U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday will sign two executive orders aimed at speeding pandemic stimulus checks to families who need it most and increasing food aid for children who normally rely on school meals as a main source for nutrition. ...“We’re at a precarious moment in our economy,” Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, told reporters in a preview of the orders. He said the actions are not a substitute for comprehensive legislative relief, “but they will provide a critical lifeline to millions of American families.” (Holland and Saphir, 1/22)
Biden To Bump Up Food Assistance For People 'Hanging By A Thread'
Biden plans to ask the Agriculture Department, which administers the food stamp program, for a 15% bump in the emergency benefits given to families whose kids normally would count on breakfast and lunch from school programs, Deese said. That change could increase food stamp benefits for a family of three by about $105 over two months, he said. Biden also wants about 12 million of the lowest-income food stamp recipients to be able to qualify for the emergency food benefits. This tweak would lift their food stamps by 15% to 20% per month, Deese said. (Rampton and Horsley, 1/22)
Biden To Sign Executive Orders Expanding Aid To Low-Income Americans
The other is geared toward improving the jobs of federal workers and contractors, which was among the President's campaign commitments. It lays the groundwork for requiring contractors to pay a $15 hourly minimum wage and to provide emergency paid leave by the end of Biden's first 100 days. It also directs agencies to determine which federal workers are earning less than that minimum and develop recommendations to promote bringing them up to $15 an hour. Biden included a call to raise the national hourly minimum wage to $15 as part of the $1.9 trillion relief package he outlined last week before taking office. It is currently $7.25 an hour. (Luhby, 1/22)
The Wall Street Journal:
Biden To Sign Executive Orders To Boost Pandemic Aid, Expand Federal Worker Protections
Mr. Biden is also asking the Treasury Department to take steps to ensure eligible households who haven’t received the stimulus payments Congress authorized last year are able to access the funds. And he will ask the Labor Department to clarify that workers have a right to refuse a job that would jeopardize their health and are still eligible for jobless benefits if they do so. The order would also establish a network of “benefit delivery teams” across federal and state-administered programs to help improve access to relief, such as tax credits, small business loans and jobless benefits. (Davidson, 1/22)
Biden Prepares Executive Orders Aimed At Combating Hunger, Protecting Workers
While they are not meant as a stand-in for the nearly $2 trillion economic relief package Biden proposed last week, the orders reflect the White House’s efforts to shore up the economy while lawmakers debate whether to enact a new, massive aid package — a process that could take months. (Cassella, 1/22)
In related news —
Health Issues Carried Weight On The Campaign Trail. What Could Biden Do In His First 100 Days?
Joe Biden ran on an expansive health care platform during his 2020 presidential campaign, with a broad array of promises such as adding a government-sponsored health plan to the Affordable Care Act and lowering prescription drug prices. Perhaps most significantly, he pledged to get control of the covid pandemic that claimed more than 400,000 American lives by Inauguration Day. President Biden now faces major challenges in accomplishing his health care agenda; among the biggest will be bridging partisan divides in both Congress and the nation at large. (Knight, 1/22)