Biden to order stopgap help as talks start on $1.9T aid plan

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President Biden plans to sign two executive orders Friday to provide a stopgap infusion of financial relief to millions of Americans while Congress begins to consider his $1.9 trillion package to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The orders Biden is expected 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 stressed that the orders are not substitutes for the additional stimulus the president says is needed beyond the $4 trillion in aid that has already been approved, including $900 billion in December.

“These actions are not a substitute for comprehensive legislative relief of the form that is in the American rescue plan but they will provide a critical lifeline to millions of American families and that is why the president is going to act quickly on these steps,” Deese said, according to Bloomberg News.

Nearly 10 million jobs have been lost since February 2020, 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 the government could be forced to provide more money to the hungry.

Children unable to get school meals because of virtual schooling 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.

The order also would create a guarantee that workers could still collect unemployment benefits if they refuse to take a job that could jeopardize their health.

Biden’s second executive order would restore union bargaining rights revoked by the Trump administration, protect the civil service system and promote a $15 hourly minimum wage for federal workers.

The president also plans to start a 100-day process for the government to require its contractors to pay at least $15 an hour and provide emergency paid leave to workers.

Biden will request that the Treasury Department create new online tools to help the roughly 8 million Americans who have not yet received coronavirus stimulus checks as well, Bloomberg News reported.

Several GOP lawmakers have voiced opposition to provisions in Biden’s stimulus plan for direct payments to people, state and local government aid and a $15 hourly minimum wage.

With Post wires

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