Today, Joe Biden is expected to sign two new executive orders that will increase food aid and expand protections for federal workers. Provisions include enhanced food stamp benefits, firming up $15 minimum wage for federal employees, and expanded unemployment benefits.
What’s in the two executive orders?
Here’s what’s expected:
- The President is requesting that the Department of Labor allow unemployed Americans to qualify for unemployment benefits if they refuse jobs that could jeopardize their health, according to the New York Times. A federal right of refusal would protect job seekers from being forced into taking jobs that could expose them to the COVID virus.
- The executive action will also try to expand federal worker protections and benefits by restoring some collective bargaining rights, guaranteeing a $15 an hour minimum wage (plus emergency paid leave benefits) and eliminating a previous Trump executive order, under which certain civil service employees were designated a Schedule F classification. The classification made it easier to fire employees as it had fewer protections under civil service rules.
- Per CNN, President Joe Biden will ask the Department of Agriculture to consider enhancing the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) by 15%, giving a family with three children more than $100 in additional support every two months. The funds are meant to make up for the loss of school meal programs.
- Biden will also boost SNAP food stamp benefits for the 12 million Americans (some 40% of the lowest-income SNAP recipients) who did not qualify for additional relief under previous relief packages. According to the New York Times, the order will increase their benefits for a family of four by 15% – 20% per month.
- The President will also ask the Treasury Department to find a better way to deliver relief checks to eight million low-income Americans who don’t file taxes and are difficult to reach. The IRS had created a non-filers tool to help these people receive their relief checks, but many are still unclaimed.