Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett released the following statement regarding President Biden’s new executive actions bringing economic and food relief to Americans:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the United States economy into an economic crisis. Across the country, more than 10 million Americans are unemployed, 14 million renters are behind on payments, and 29 million adults – and at least 8 million children – are struggling with food insecurity. Because of pervasive systemic racism and inequality in our economy, the burdens of this economic crisis are hitting communities of color and other underserved families hardest. One in 10 Black workers and one in 11 Latino workers are unemployed. Navigating through the current crisis and emerging stronger requires immediate action to provide equitable economic relief to working families everywhere.
“Last week, President Biden unveiled a historic legislative package designed to change the course of the pandemic, get students back to school, give families and businesses a bridge to an economic recovery, and invest in advancing racial equity. His plan came on the heels of December’s bipartisan deal to provide a down payment on long-term economic relief for working families. Congress should finish the job by expeditiously passing the American Rescue Plan into law. But the American people cannot afford to wait for Congress to act – they need help and they need it now.
“Today, the President is issuing an Executive Order that will launch an all-of-government effort to provide equitable emergency economic relief to working families, communities and small businesses across the nation. The actions taken as part of this effort will provide relief to millions of American workers who have lost their jobs and had their hours or wages slashed through no fault of their own. They will help working families feed their children and keep a roof over their head. They will help ensure that unemployed Americans no longer have to choose between paying their bills and keeping themselves and their families safe from COVID-19 by clarifying that workers who refuse unsafe working conditions can still receive unemployment insurance. And, they will help more unemployed workers pay for training and college so they can find better jobs and succeed in an increasingly competitive job market.
“That all-of-government effort will:
- Address the growing hunger crisis facing 29 million Americans — and as many as 12 million children – by asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider expanding and extending federal nutrition assistance programs.
- Ensure equitable and effective delivery of direct payments — by asking the Treasury Department to consider changing its delivery structure and focus on getting relief to the 8 million Americans who still have not received the financial assistance to which they are entitled.
- Help approximately 2 million veterans maintain their financial footing by asking the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to consider pausing federal collections on overpayments and debts.
- Help ensure that unemployed Americans no longer have to choose between paying their bills and keeping themselves and their families safe from COVID-19 by asking the U.S. Department of Labor to consider clarifying that workers who refuse unsafe working conditions can still receive unemployment insurance.
- Enable effective and equitable distribution of government assistance by establishing an interagency benefit coordination structure.
“While additional congressional action is urgently needed to help working families through the remainder of the crisis, these emergency measures are important steps to give millions of Americans real relief during the pandemic. This executive order combined with the President’s historic relief package and forthcoming jobs package will help Americans persevere through the pandemic and lay the foundation for a strong and equitable recovery. The President is also recommending immediate action to improve the wages, benefits, and bargaining rights of federal workers and contractors.”