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Biden to sign executive orders increasing food stamps and speeding stimulus checks

Louise Hall
·3-min read
<p>Joe Biden signs executive orders as part of the Covid-19 response in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

Joe Biden signs executive orders as part of the Covid-19 response in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington

(AFP via Getty Images)

Newly inaugurated President Joe Biden is set to issue a flurry of executive orders targeted at assisting families and workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, aiming to stabilise the economy.

On Friday, Mr Biden will reportedly sign into law a host of orders in line with his vow to “bold steps to address the inequities in our economy and provide relief” to those struggling amid the ongoing crisis.

According to The New York Times, two of the executive orders will help steer additional federal aid to families who are struggling to afford food and to help workers stay safe amid the crisis.

Mr Biden is also said to be planning to direct the Treasury Department to find ways to deliver stimulus checks to Americans who have not yet received the emergency funds.

He will also reportedly sign an order to lay the groundwork for the federal government to move towards the implementation of a $15 an hour minimum wage.

“We are at a precarious moment in our economy,” Brian Deese, who directs the National Economic Council, reportedly said when previewing the orders.

“The American people cannot afford to wait. So many are hanging by a thread.”

The executive action is estimated to increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, otherwise known as food stamps, for the 12 million families who rely on the aid most.

The order would increase weekly benefits for a family of four by 15 or 20 per cent, reports said.

An increase of benefits awarded through a school meals programme for low-income families could also give a family of three children more than $100 in extra benefits every two months.

Mr Biden is also seeking to permit eligibility for unemployment benefits for workers who are forced to quit jobs that provide unsafe working conditions amid the pandemic.

“Workers have a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that will jeopardise their health, and if they do so, they will still qualify for unemployment insurance,” a fact sheet detailing the orders reportedly said.

Mr Biden also plans to direct the Treasury Department to find new ways to get stimulus checks passed in both coronavirus stimulus packages in March and December to the millions who have not received them.

He will also reportedly direct federal agencies to determine which of their workers earn less than $15 an hour, and to develop “recommendations to promote a $15 per hour minimum wage for them.”

Mr Deese reportedly said on Thursday that the measures are meant as only partial solutions as the new administration works on negotiations for a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal in Congress.

“These actions are not a substitute for comprehensive legislative relief,” Mr Deese said according to The Washington Post. “but they will provide a critical lifeline to millions of American families.”

The moves come as part of a wave of executive orders and immediate actions passed by Mr Biden during his short time as president.

The White House hit the ground running with at least 17 executive orders and a range of new domestic and international policies on issues such as climate change, coronavirus, and immigration.

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