President Joe Biden on Friday signed a pair of executive orders he said would help struggling Americans now, as he pressed lawmakers to back a much bigger stimulus package.
After speaking at the White House, Biden signed orders aimed at boosting food benefits for poorer Americans, clearing a path for federal workers to get a $15 hourly minimum wage, and directing the Treasury to find ways to get stimulus checks to eligible Americans who haven’t yet gotten them.
“There are steps that we can and must take right now,” Biden said, after pitching anew his $1.9 trillion relief plan.
Brian Deese, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said Friday’s actions aren’t a substitute for legislation. Speaking to reporters at a White House briefing, Deese called the orders “a critical lifeline” for families and said, “the American people are hurting and they can’t afford to wait.”
Deese said he is planning a call on Sunday with bipartisan lawmakers to make the case for the COVID relief package. Republicans including Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are skeptical of the plan.
With the new signings, Biden has put through 32 executive orders or memorandums, proclamations and other actions.
Among the executive orders he has signed are those that would revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, require masks on federal property, and fill supply shortfalls in the fight against COVID-19 by using the Defense Production Act.
U.S. stock indexes /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -1.11% closed mostly lower Friday after posting fresh record highs this week, as reports showed that lockdown measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic are taking an economic toll in Europe and Biden’s proposed new round of fiscal stimulus ran into some opposition in the Senate.