On Friday, President Biden signed executive orders to provide economic relief to millions of Americans. He’s seeking to boost the minimum wage, expand food stamps, and improve stimulus delivery. Biden has been in office for less than 72 hours and he’s making fierce moves — with or without congress.
“We’re in a national emergency. We need to act like we’re in a national emergency. So we’ve got to move with everything we got,” Biden stated in remarks ahead of signing the orders.
Biden is moving swiftly as the country continues to grapple with record unemployment numbers and increasing Coronavirus cases. The latest unemployment data for the Department of Labor shows that approximately 900,000 unemployment claims were filed during the week of January 16th. The John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center shows that the U.S. has surpassed 410,000 Coronavirus deaths.
Food Assistance Program
A week before the inauguration, President Biden revealed his $1.9 trillion relief plan. It’s still unknown whether Republicans will support this plan. Instead of waiting around, Biden issued an order on Friday to help struggling families acquire basic nutritional needs.
Biden wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand food stamps, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The order would give states permission to increase the SNAP benefits by 15%. A boost in emergency food assistance through SNAP would lead to an additional 12 million people receiving enhanced benefits, according to CBS News.
The food assistance program would also help families who would have qualified for free or reduced-price lunches in school. Many schools have been closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, leaving many families without basic food necessities throughout the day.
Executive Order for Boost in Minimum Wage
President Biden is not backing down on his push for a more equitable wage. As part of his relief plan, Biden wants to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15. The wages have been the same since July 2009.
To get the ball rolling, Biden’s second order called for federal contractors to pay employees a $15 minimum wage. He’s also pushing for emergency paid leave for workers.
The president wants federal agencies to identify the population of workers who earn less than $15. Then, he wants them to develop “recommendations to pay more federal employees at least $15 per hour,” according to The White House Fact Sheet.