Biden has scrapped plans by former President Donald Trump to scrap food stamps for three million Americans and to remove automatic eligibility for free school meals from a million schoolchildren.
The proposal, which was first raised by the Trump administration in 2019, would have restricted eligibility for the schemes to only the poorest Americans, CNN reported.
Republicans had argued that there was a loophole in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program program which allowed higher-earning Americans to apply for food stamps.
However, the proposal to restrict access to the scheme would have affected significant numbers of children who would have lost out both from the removal of food stamps as well as free school meals, campaigners argued.
It comes after the Biden administration scrapped another Trump plan which would have removed access to food stamps for around 700,000 Americans, by limiting the ability of states to waive requirements for recipients to work.
The proposal was blocked by a US district court judge in 2020, which the Trump administration had appealed, only for the US government’s opposition to be overturned by the Biden administration.
President Biden has pushed to expand the generosity of the food stamps scheme since taking office as part of a drive to tackle hunger in the United States.
President Joe Biden signed an executive action on Friday to address the financial struggles facing millions of Americans as the pandemic continues.
“We need more action and we need to move fast,” Biden said during a signing ceremony on Friday.
While Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package is centered around providing aid, executives orders will allow for immediate action without having to wait for congressional approval, Insider previously reported. The move underscores the Biden administration’s intent to move rapidly to address the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
The Biden administration is also kickstarting relief talks with Congress this weekend, attempting to garner bipartisan support for a large rescue package that’s already running into strong Republican opposition.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of what the executive action includes and how it will provide economic relief for businesses, families, and individuals:
Address the growing hunger crisis facing children and adults in America
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, one in seven households in the country are struggling to obtain the food they need. Biden is calling on Congress to extend the 15% Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit increase and invest $3 billion to help women, infants, and children get the food they require.
Increase access to nutritious foods for children missing meals during school closures
The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer connects low-income families with children with the equivalent amount of money spent on school meals. Biden is asking the Dept. of Agriculture to increase the benefits by about 15% to accurately reflect the cost of missed meals during the pandemic.
Allow larger emergency SNAP allotments for lowest-income households
Congress has previously authorized emergency SNAP benefits, but those benefits have not been made available to the lowest-income households in the country. The USDA will consider extending those benefits to the households that need them the most, increasing benefit access to an additional 12 million people.
Update the true cost of a healthy diet
The USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan, which determines SNAP benefits, is not up to date with the economic realities households face when attempting to buy healthy food, so the benefits fall short of what a healthy diet truly costs. Biden will request that the USDA review the Thrifty Food Plan to better reflect the modern cost of a healthy diet.
Ensure efficient delivery of direct stimulus payments
With many Americans experiencing challenges receiving the first round of direct payments — eight million eligible households never received the checks — Biden plans to provide equitable delivery of his proposed $1,400 stimulus checks by asking the Treasury Department to improve delivery of the Economic Impact Payments. This can be done through a series of measures, including establishing online tools for claiming payments, working to make sure everyone can access the payments, and analyzing unserved households for additional outreach efforts.
Guarantee safety and economic coverage for working families
43% of American households report having at least one member of a family with a pre-existing condition, according to a Gallup poll, which makes going into work a significant health risk. As a result, Biden will ask the Dept. of Labor to clarify that workers have a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that could jeopardize their health, and if they choose to do so, they will still qualify for unemployment insurance.
Help families, workers, and small businesses access relief quickly through coordinated benefit delivery teams
While many government programs have provided support for families struggling financially, many individuals and small businesses have encountered difficulty in navigating relief services, leaving many benefits unclaimed. As a result, Biden plans on establishing benefit delivery teams and a coordination structure across federal and state programs to provide greater ease in accessing urgent relief.
Protecting and Empowering Federal Workers and Contractors Executive Order
Biden will direct his administration on Friday to begin the work that will allow him to issue an executive order in his first 100 days to require federal contractors to pay workers a $15 minimum wage, along with providing emergency paid leave to workers.
To further protect federal employees, Biden will sign an executive order that:
Restores collective bargaining powers and worker protections
Eliminates Schedule F, which threatens critical protections of career employees and allows for civil service positions for political appointees
Promotes a $15 minimum wage for all federal workers