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Joe Biden orders emergency financial aid measures

US President Joe Biden signed two emergency decrees to accelerate an interim measure of financial aid for millions of people affected by the coronavirus pandemic as Congress begins debating a much larger package.

The two executive orders signed by Biden would increase food aid, protect the unemployed and clear the way for federal workers and contractors to receive a minimum wage of $ 15 per hour.

“This can help tens of millions of families, especially those who cannot feed their children,” Biden stated. “Many Americans are suffering … No matter what it looks like, we have to act.”

Biden said that the pandemic situation in the United States is bleak, and that the virus could not be stopped in the coming months. He also predicted that more than 600,000 people would die in the country from COVID-19. The death toll from the pandemic has already exceeded 400,000 in the United States.

The government has emphasized that the decrees are not a substitute for the additional stimulus package that Biden says is necessary, beyond the $ 4 trillion in aid that has already been approved, including $ 900 billion in December.

Several Republicans have voiced opposition to clauses in Biden’s plan to make direct payments to individuals, provide aid to state and local governments, and pass a $ 15-an-hour minimum wage nationwide.

Most economists believe that the United States can recover strongly once people are vaccinated against the new coronavirus, but the situation remains dire due to the closure of businesses and schools. Almost 10 million jobs have been lost since February and almost 30 million families do not have guaranteed access to food.

One of Biden’s orders asks the Department of Agriculture to study an adjustment to food aid rules so that the government is forced to give more money to the hungry.

Children unable to eat lunch in the school cafeteria due to distance learning would receive a 15% increase in food aid, according to a White House briefing document.

Lower-income families may receive emergency benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The order also tries to make it easier for people to claim direct payments for care packages and other past benefits. In addition, it would create a guarantee that workers can continue to collect unemployment benefit if they refuse to accept a job that endangers their health.

Biden’s second executive order would restore bargaining rights overridden by the previous government to unions, protect the civil service system, and promote a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour for all federal public employees.

The Democratic president wants to start a 100-day process for the federal government to require its contractors to pay at least $ 15 an hour and give their workers emergency paid leave, which would put pressure on the private sector to raise wages and benefits. .

The White House has not provided a timeline for getting its rescue package approved and says its officials are just beginning to meet with lawmakers to discuss the proposal.