White House National Economic Council adviser Brian Deese told reporters on Friday that the country is at "a moment that requires decisive action" to beat COVID-19 and support the economic recovery, while unveiling a President Biden's latest executive orders aimed at helping American families and small businesses facing financial struggles due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"The American people are hurting and they can't afford to wait," Deese told reporters Friday. "They need help right now, and that's the motivation behind the actions the president will take today."
Biden will sign an executive order Friday to attempt to maximize the federal government’s existing resources to support families, with an emphasis on providing food assistance to low-income families.
Biden will ask the Department of Agriculture to increase current pandemic-related electronic benefit transfers (EBTs) by 15% and streamline the process through which Americans claim benefits. Additionally, Biden will ask the USDA to increase its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allotments for low-income families.
The order states that Americans have the right to retain their food assistance benefits if they refuse a job opportunity that carries a risk to their health. It contains additional assistance measures aimed at military veterans and calls for the establishment of an interagency structure to coordinate benefit programs for Americans in need.
The second executive order will seek to provide improved protections and benefits for federal workers during the pandemic.
Biden will direct his administration to begin work on his pledge to deliver a $15 minimum wage and emergency paid leave to federal workers within his first 100 days in office. The work will include a review of which agencies currently pay less than $15 per hour and make recommendations about how best to implement the wage hike.
The order will strengthen collective bargaining power for federal workers, among other initiatives meant to ensure they receive proper benefits, the new administration claimed.
Biden officials said the orders are meant to serve as placeholders until Congress passes another coronavirus stimulus package.
"These actions are not a substitute fro comprehensive legislative relief," Deese said Friday, but said it "will provide a critical lifeline for families."
Deese said that White House economic advisers will be discussing the administration's plans for relief with a bipartisan group of members of Congress over the weekend.
"In terms of the message, it is pretty clear, we're at a precarious moment for the virus and the economy," Deese said. "Without decisive action, we risk falling into a serious economic hole."
He added: "You've heard the president clearly explain that his economic approach is one where rescue and recovery need to come together."
Also this week, Biden took executive action to extend eviction and foreclosure moratoriums to March 31 and extended the pause on federal student loan payments and interest through Sept. 30.
Deese, earlier this week, said the emergency measures "are important," but said they are "not a substitute," and urged Congress to pass legislation.
Biden last week unveiled a massive $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposal which aims to combat the coronavirus and begins to pump up a U.S. economy severely battered by the worst pandemic to strike the globe in a century.
Over $1 trillion of that total price tag is for direct relief to individuals and families.
Biden's plan would also extend and expand unemployment insurance benefits "so American workers can pay their bills" and would push to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Fox News' Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.