US President Joe Biden signed executive orders aimed at delivering swift economic relief to an economy decimated by the pandemic.
The measures are stop-gaps as Congress considers Biden’s $1.9 trillion (€1.56 trillion) stimulus plan.
The orders are aimed at increasing food aid, making it easier to claim government benefits, and protecting unemployed workers.
“We have the tools to get through this,” explained President Biden. “We have the tools to get this virus under control and our economy back on track. We have the tools to help people, so let’s use the tools, all of them. Use them now.”
The newly inaugurated US president went on to say the coronavirus pandemic was to blame, and that it could get worse before it gets better.
“And the crisis is only deepening. It’s not getting better, it’s deepening. Yesterday we learned that 900,000 more Americans filed for unemployment, 900,000. They joined millions of Americans who through no fault of their own have lost the dignity and respect that comes with a job and a paycheck.”
Most economists believe the United States can rebound with strength once people are vaccinated from the coronavirus, but the situation is still dire as the disease has closed businesses and schools. Nearly 10 million jobs have been lost since last February, and nearly 30 million households lack secure access to food.
The Senate Finance Committee approved Biden’s nomination of Janet Yellen for treasury secretary on Friday.
If approved in a final vote, she will be the first woman to hold the key government post.
Republicans disagree with some aspects of her policy but committee members said it was important to have an economic team in place as soon as possible.