Biden’s new executive actions to bring economic relief to Americans

Two days after moving into the White House, President Biden brings change with him
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN)- Joe Biden wasted no time stepping into the President’s shoes on Wednesday, immediately beginning to sign a number of executive actions.

Click here to read the breakdown of Biden’s day one actions and how they may affect you.

On Friday, President Biden released new executive actions to “deliver economic relief for American families and businesses amid the COVID-19 crises”.

We’ll give you the highlights from Biden’s latest executive action below:

COVID ECONOMIC RELIEF EXECUTIVE ORDER–OVERVIEW

The document expresses that these actions are going to give relief to all Americans. These bullet points are verbatim from the executive action document:

  • Address the growing hunger crisis facing 29 million Americans — and as many as 12 million children – by asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider expanding and extending federal nutrition assistance programs.
  • Ensure equitable and effective delivery of direct payments — by asking the Treasury Department to consider changing its delivery structure and focus on getting relief to the 8 million Americans who still have not received the financial assistance to which they are entitled.
  • Help approximately 2 million veterans maintain their financial footing by asking the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to consider pausing federal collections on overpayments and debts.
  • Help ensure that unemployed Americans no longer have to choose between paying their bills and keeping themselves and their families safe from COVID-19 by asking the U.S. Department of Labor to consider clarifying that workers who refuse unsafe working conditions can still receive unemployment insurance.
  • Enable effective and equitable distribution of government assistance by establishing an interagency benefit coordination structure.

ADDRESSING THE HUNGER CRISIS

As part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan proposal, he will call on Congress to give all Americans more support. “President Biden is calling on Congress to provide additional support to ensure that all Americans, regardless of background, have access to healthy, affordable groceries by extending the 15% Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits increase, investing $3 billion to help women, infants, and children get the food they need and other key steps.”

  • Increase million’s of children’s access to healthy food, even amid school closures.

“Established under Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) connects low-income families with kids with food dollars equivalent to the value of the school meals missed due to COVID-related school closures. To date, the program has only allowed P-EBT benefit amounts up to $5.70 per child per school day and many households have had trouble claiming benefits. To address these concerns and expand needed relief, the President is asking USDA to consider issuing new guidance increasing P-EBT benefits by approximately 15% to accurately reflect the costs of missing meals and make it easier for households to claim benefits. For instance, this action could provide a family with three children more than $100 of additional support every two months.”

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will be allowed larger emergency allotments for households with the lowest-income.

“Congress authorized emergency increases to SNAP benefits to help address food insecurity during the pandemic. So far, those benefit increases have not been made available to all of the lowest income households. USDA will consider issuing new guidance that would allow states to increase SNAP emergency allotments for those who need it most. This would be the first step to ensuring that an additional 12 million people get enhanced SNAP benefits to keep nutritious food on the table.”

  • Updated food assistance benefits that will reflect the real cost of eating healthier.

“More than 40 million Americans count on SNAP to help put food on the table. Currently, however, USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan, the basis for determining SNAP benefits, is out of date with the economic realities most struggling households face when trying to buy and prepare healthy food. As a result, the benefits fall short of what a healthy, adequate diet costs for many households. Therefore, as directed by the 2018 Farm Bill, the President will ask USDA to consider beginning the process of revising the Thrifty Food Plan to better reflect the modern cost of a healthy basic diet.”

DELIVERY OF DIRECT PAYMENTS 

President Biden is working to get Americans the full $2,000 stimulus checks. His American Rescue Plan proposes giving Americans an additional $1,400 following the $600 that Congress passed legislation on.

“The President is asking the Department of Treasury to consider taking a series of actions to expand and improve the delivery of Economic Impact Payments including establishing online tools for claiming their payments, working to make sure that those who have not yet accessed their funds get the relief they deserve, and analyzing unserved households to inform additional outreach efforts.”

GUARANTEE TO KEEP AMERICANS SAFE 

Biden wants to promise Americans that they won’t have to choose between paying their bills and staying safe from coronavirus.

“In 2019, 43% of American households reported having at least one member with pre-existing conditions, many of whom may have a heightened risk of serious illness or death if they contract COVID. President Biden believes that workers should have the right to safe work environments and that no one should have to choose between their livelihoods and their own or their families’ health. As one of many measures to help keep workers and their families’ safe throughout the pandemic, the President is asking the Department of Labor to consider clarifying that workers have a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that will jeopardize their health and if they do so, they will still qualify for unemployment insurance.”

PROTECTIONS FOR FEDERAL WORKERS AND CONTRACTORS 

On Friday, Biden starts working on an Executive Order that will require federal contractors to pay a minimum $15 minimum wage and provide emergency paid leave to workers.

“He is also taking critical steps to protect and empower federal employees, who dedicate their careers to serving the American people. They keep us healthy, safe, and informed, and their work transcends partisan politics. They are health care workers who care for veterans, the elderly, and the disabled. They are expert scientists, medical doctors, and technicians who maintain world-class standards, prevent and combat the spread of infectious diseases, and save countless lives. They deliver our mail, run our national parks, keep our federal buildings up and running, help protect us against climate change and environmental poisoning, and ensure that the law is applied faithfully and fairly. They are talented, hard-working, and inspiring Americans, worthy of the utmost dignity and respect. But, over the last four years, they’ve been undermined and demoralized.”

President Biden will sign an Executive Order to protect the U.S.’s federal employees, this is what it will do, verbatim:

  • Restores collective bargaining power and worker protections by revoking Trump Executive Orders 13836, 13837, and 13839. It goes further to direct agencies to bargain over permissible, non-mandatory subjects of bargaining when contracts are up for negotiation so that workers have a greater voice in their working conditions.
  • Eliminates Schedule F, which undermines the foundations of the civil service. Its existence threatens the critical protections of career employees and provides a pathway to burrow political appointees into the civil service.
  • Promotes a $15 minimum wage. The Executive Order directs agencies to review which federal workers earn less than $15 per hour and develops recommendations to promote a $15 per hour minimum wage for them.

EASIER ACCESS TO RELIEF RESOURCES 

“…critical support does not always reach the people who need it: families struggle to navigate complicated eligibility rules while over 20% of Earned Income Tax Credits go unclaimed; many small businesses in communities of color cannot easily access loans, and according to one survey less than 40% of service workers who were laid off or furloughed at the height of pandemic closures actually received timely unemployment benefits due to system failures as applications surged. At the same time, an estimated 47% of children live in households that have trouble covering usual expenses such as food, housing, and medical care. The stakes are too high and too many families are in need of people not to get the relief that they are entitled to. The Biden-Harris Administration is establishing a network of benefit delivery teams and a coordination structure across federal and state-administered programs to reduce the time and burden to access urgent support that provides greater stability and builds towards an equitable recovery.”

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