One is improving the working conditions of federal employees and contractors, which was one of the president’s campaign promises. It introduces another order into the council that it plans to sign within the first 100 days, which would require federal contractors to pay a minimum wage of 15 hours and provide paid time off in case of an emergency. It also calls on agencies to identify federal employees who earn less than this minimum and make recommendations to increase them to $15 an hour.
Biden called for an increase in the national minimum wage to $15 as part of the $1.9 trillion bailout package he introduced last week before taking office. It’s currently $7.25 an hour.
The second decree aims to provide a variety of assistance to people who are unemployed or have difficulty obtaining food.
The American people can’t afford to wait, said Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, pointing out that nearly 30 million people don’t always have enough to eat, according to the Census Bureau. And many of them are hanging on by a thread. They need help and we are doing everything we can to help them as quickly as possible.
Since being sworn in on Wednesday, Biden has signed a series of decrees, actions and memoranda, including emergency measures to assist student loan borrowers and people facing eviction. On Thursday, it formalized measures to control the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden is expected to sign more executive orders in the coming days, according to a calendar document sent to allies of the administration and monitored by CNN. His agenda for next week includes measures to strengthen government requirements to buy goods and services from U.S. companies, efforts to eliminate private prisons, reinstate the Presidential Council of Science and Technology Advisors, repeal the so-called Mexico City Policy that blocks federal funds for nongovernmental organizations that provide abortion services, and amend border and refugee processing policies and create a working group on family reunification.
Restoration of civil service protection
Friday’s original ruling would also repeal three executive orders signed by President Donald Trump in 2018 that made it easier for federal employees to be fired and weakened their unions. These measures have been the subject of legal and arbitration proceedings.
Biden’s action requires agencies to negotiate authorized and non-binding elements in contract negotiations.
Friday’s order also repeals the new Schedule F classification for certain federal officials that Trump created in October by Council Order. Critics argue that Mr. Trump’s decision politicizes public service and could lead to the forced departure of officials for political reasons.
Help to families in need
The second order asks the Department of Agriculture to consider increasing EBT pandemic benefits by 15 percent, which would give a family of three an additional $100 in assistance every two months. This program is part of an aid package passed by Congress last March. It provides funds to low-income families whose schools have closed to replace free or reduced-price meals they would have received.
In addition, the order directs the department to consider authorizing states to increase food stamp benefits for approximately 12 million Americans who have not yet received an increase in emergency funding.
And the President has asked the agency to consider revising the Thirty Food Plan, which is the basis for determining the benefits of food stamps, to better reflect the current cost of healthy staple foods.
During the pandemic, food insecurity exploded amid massive job losses. The aid law passed in December increases the cap on the supplemental food aid program, officially called food stamps, by 15 percent through June. Biden’s bailout would have extended it through September.
In addition, Biden will ask the Treasury Department to consider a range of measures to try to cover the more than 8 million people who may have missed their stimulus payments because they generally don’t file their tax returns.
And the executive order directs the Department of Labor to consider clarifying that unemployed Americans can opt out of a job they fear will jeopardize their health and continue to receive unemployment benefits.
This became a problem during the pandemic because some unemployed people were afraid to take jobs they thought would expose them to the virus. States handle these situations differently.
CNN’s Katie Lobosko, Nikki Carvajal and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.
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