Biden to Boost Food Assistance, Federal Workers’ Wages With Stimulus at Risk

Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Biden to Boost Food Assistance, Federal Workers’ Wages With Stimulus at Risk” – below is their description.

President Joe Biden will mark his third day in office with executive actions to boost food assistance for impoverished Americans and use federal contracts as a step toward his proposed nationwide minimum-wage hike, seeking immediate help for an economy struggling to cope with Covid-19.

The executive actions Biden is set to sign Friday at the White House also include a restoration of rights for federal workers that were stripped by his predecessor Donald Trump.

While consequential for those affected, the measures offer a shadow of the relief included in Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 aid plan. That package faces challenges in Congress after moderate Republicans this week said they saw no need to rush on another big spending bill after last month’s $900 billion effort. Senator Susan Collins of Maine on Thursday became the latest to express opposition to the idea of a big new package, while Senator Roy Blunt, a member of GOP leadership, called it a “non-starter.”

“These actions are not a substitute for comprehensive legislative relief of the form that is in the American rescue plan,” said Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council. “But they will provide a critical lifeline to millions of American families and that is why the president is going to act quickly on these steps.”

Deese is planning to discuss Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion package with a bipartisan group of 16 senators on Sunday, independent Senator Angus King of Maine and GOP Senator Mitt Romney — both of whom are members — told reporters Friday.

Democrats, meanwhile, are discussing making an end-run around Republicans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told donors on a Zoom call Thursday night she had wanted to pass Biden’s Covid-19 relief legislation via the budget reconciliation process in two weeks, according to a person familiar with the comments. That process could eliminate the need for Republican support in the Senate by lowering the threshold for passage to a simple majority.

While congressional Democrats consider their strategy, Biden on Friday will expand eligibility for enhanced food stamp programs, assist veterans who are behind on their bills and create new tools to help Americans who have not received their stimulus checks get paid.

The president will also look to clarify that unemployment insurance should cover workers refusing positions with unsafe working conditions. And he will direct agencies to examine how they can ensure federal workers and contractors are paid a $15 minimum wage.

“We’re at a precarious moment in our economy,” Deese told reporters in a briefing on the planned executive actions.

The administration is set soon to have a new policy maker on deck to help address the crisis, with Janet Yellen advancing through the Senate Finance Committee Friday morning toward confirmation by the chamber. The unanimous approval by the panel opened the way for a full Senate vote as soon as Friday afternoon, senators said.

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