In his first ten days in office, President Joe Biden signed a flurry of legal actions. These executive orders, presidential memos, and proclamations follow a long tradition of directives issued by incoming presidents, although Biden now holds the record for the highest number of actions taken in an administration’s first ten days.
The scope of the president’s directives is vast, including conquering the COVID-19 pandemic, easing restrictions on immigration, re-engaging in global efforts to control climate change, advancing racial equity, and promoting economic recovery, among other critical issues.
All the president’s orders are consequential, but some will have a direct impact on the hardworking families that are served daily at Crisis Assistance Ministry. Many of these are contained in the American Rescue Plan, which includes the following goals:
- Provide $1400 per-person relief checks to lower- and middle-income households and ensure that those left out of the previous rounds of relief receive all the assistance they are entitled to.
- Extend the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September 2021.
- Provide an additional $30 billion for rental, energy, and water assistance for struggling families.
- Extend unemployment benefits through September 2021 and provide a federal unemployment insurance supplement of $400 per week.
- Address the growing hunger crisis by extending the increased benefit amount for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and provide administrative support to states.
- Increase access to affordable, quality childcare so that parents can get back to work.
- Expand the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit to give the lowest-income families a much needed financial boost.
In addition to releasing the American Rescue Plan, President Biden issued dozens of executive orders in his first ten days in office. Here is a full listing of the executive actions with links to the official orders, a few of which stand out as especially beneficial for the hardest-hit families in our community.
- Increase Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care: Reopened enrollment to the Health Insurance Marketplace and directed federal agencies to strengthen Americans’ access to health care, including strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.
Good health is essential to a person’s ability to work, maintain financial stability, and care for their family. As the pandemic has clearly demonstrated, people of color and other underserved communities suffer from diseases at disproportionate rates.
- Ensure an Equitable Response to the Pandemic. Created a Health Equity Task Force to address the disparate impact of COVID-19 on people of color and other underserved populations.
The vastly different outcomes experienced by various communities during the pandemic have been sobering. Not only are people of color more likely to work in jobs with greater exposure to the virus, they are also at much higher risk of dying from it.
- Support Reopening of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers. Directed the Department of Education to assist states in safely resuming in-person learning.
Children from lower-income families have struggled more in the remote learning environment for a variety of reasons, including lack of access to reliable technology and less parental supervision due to parents working outside the home. This situation compounds the existent learning gap between high-poverty and low-poverty schools.
- Ensure an Accurate Census Count. Clarified that all people living in the United States are to be counted in the Census, regardless of immigration status.
The Census determines how many Congressional representatives each state has and how much federal funding communities receive for vital programs like food and energy assistance, transit, and public safety. Making sure every person living in the United States is counted helps allocate power and money in the most equitable way.