Biden signs executive orders to expand food stamps, up federal pay
Washington, Jan 23 (IANS) US President Joe Biden has signed two executive orders, one to expand food assistance to low-income Americans, and the other to raise minimum wage to $15 for federal employees.
“We need to tackle the growing hunger crisis in American,” Xinhua news agency quoted Biden as saying before signing the orders on Friday.
He noted that one in seven households in America, more than one in five Black and Latino households in America, report they do not have enough food to eat.
That includes 30 million adults and as many as 12 million children, the President continued.
With the signing of one of the executive orders, the Department of Agriculture will consider taking immediate steps to make it easier for the hardest hit families to enrol and claim more generous benefits in the critical food and nutrition assistance areas, he said.
The order would also increase Pandemic-EBT, an electronic debit card program for students who would have qualified for free or reduced-price meals at school.
The second order Biden signed is to improve collecting bargaining power and protections for federal workers, and direct the Office of Personnel Management to develop recommendations to increase the minimum wage for federal employees to $15 per hour.
Biden also highlighted the need for the Congress to roll out more sweeping aid, saying that the $1.9 trillion ‘American Rescue Plan’ he proposed last week has gained support from bipartisan economists and Wall Street analysts.
The package includes over $400 billion to combat the pandemic directly such as more funding for testing and vaccine distribution; roughly $1 trillion in direct relief to households; and over $400 billion for hard-hit small businesses and communities.
“We cannot, will not let people go hungry. We cannot let people get evicted because of nothing they did themselves. We cannot watch people lose their jobs. We have to act,” Biden said.
“We must act decisively and boldly to grow the economy. The bottom line is this: we’re in a national emergency. We’ve got to act like we’re in a national emergency,” he added.