Joe Biden on Friday will sign a pair of executive orders aimed at providing immediate relief to American families battling the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and expanding protection for the safety of federal workers.
The first action addresses food insecurity by expanding nutrition programs for low-income families and children. The order will also seek to clarify a rule to ensure that unemployed Americans will still qualify for unemployment insurance if they refuse a job that would endanger their health.
The second order seeks to expand the protection of federal workers by restoring collective bargaining rights and promoting a federal minimum wage of $ 15. To that end, Biden will direct agencies to review federal workers who earn less than $ 15 an hour and develop recommendations for raising their salaries.
“The American people can’t afford to wait,” Brian Deeze, Biden’s best economic adviser, told reporters. “They are hanging on so much, they need help, and we are committed to doing our best to provide that help as quickly as possible.”
The latest enforcement action comes a day after a Labor Department report showed that unemployment claims remain at historically high levels, with 900,000 Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week. The figures reflect the scale of the economic challenges inherited from Biden amid the resurgence of the coronavirus this winter.
Friday’s actions are part of a blitz of executive orders and directives Biden has taken since taking office.
Hours after taking office, Biden signed an executive order to extend the federal eviction pause until the end of March, which will protect millions of Americans struggling to pay rent amid the pandemic. He also ordered federal agencies to extend their moratorium on foreclosures guaranteed by federal authorities and asked the education ministry to extend the freeze on federal student loan payments until the end of September.
On Thursday, he unveiled a “wartime” national strategy, Covid-19, aimed at increasing vaccine production, creating guidelines for opening schools and businesses, and imposing new requirements for wearing masks.
Biden has long argued that economic recovery is linked to the fight against the coronavirus, a clearly different approach to its predecessor, which called on states to lift restrictions even as infections increased.
A key element of Biden’s plan to alleviate the economic crisis is a $ 1.9 million emergency package called the U.S. Rescue Plan, which includes $ 1,400 in direct payments to Americans, a continuation of temporarily increased unemployment benefits and billions of dollars in national vaccination program.
Republicans are already opposing the cost of the law, raising doubts about whether Biden will be able to attract bipartisan support, as he had hoped. Several Republicans questioned the need for an additional stimulus package weeks after passing a $ 900 billion coronavirus relief bill.
Deese stressed that the president’s unilateral decrees offer only urgent relief and are no substitute for congressional action.
“These actions are concrete and will provide immediate support to the families affected,” he said. “They are not enough and are needed much, much more.”