President Joe Biden launched another front in his battle against COVID-19 on Friday by taking steps to increase food assistance for families still reeling from the effects of the deadly pandemic and laying the groundwork for a $15 minimum wage for federal workers.
Biden signed executive orders giving low-income families easier access to federal nutrition and food assistance programs and taking action to get stimulus checks into the hands of Americans who still haven’t received them yet.
“We cannot – will not – let people go hungry,” Biden said during an event in the White House State Dining Room.
“We’re in a national emergency,” he said. “We need to act like we’re in a national emergency.”
Biden, who is just three days into his presidency, already has called on Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that would include another round of stimulus payments of up to $1,400 to millions of Americans.
But it’s unclear how quickly lawmakers will act on that package. The president’s executive actions aren’t intended to be a substitute for comprehensive legislation but will guarantee that relief can be delivered quickly to Americans who need it most, the administration said.
“These actions are concrete and will provide immediate support to hard-hit families,” said Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council. But, “they are not enough. Much, much more is needed.”
Deese is slated to meet with a bipartisan group of lawmakers Sunday as the Biden administration tries to sell its COVID-19 relief plan. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., confirmed they were among the group of lawmakers invited to the weekend meeting.