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Biden ordering stopgap help as talks start on big aid plan

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BALTIMORE (AP/WKOW) -- President Joe Biden plans to take executive action to provide a stopgap measure of financial relief to millions of Americans.

Biden wants to get assistance flowing while Congress begins to consider the Democratic president's much larger $1.9 trillion package to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The two executive orders that Biden is to sign Friday would increase food aid, protect job seekers on unemployment and clear a path for federal workers and contractors to get a $15 hourly minimum wage.

The raging pandemic has millions of households across the country struggling to put food on the table, so one of the actions Biden is taking Friday is to ask the Department of Agriculture to allow states to increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. SNAP is commonly known as food stamps.

Biden also wants to increase by 15 percent the benefits awarded through school meal programs for low incomes students that started during the pandemic.

Finally, in terms of increasing food aid, Biden is directing the USDA to revise the Thrifty Food Plan, which is the basis for determining SNAP benefits, so that it reflects the modern cost of a healthy basic diet.

Biden is also directing the Department of the Treasury to take a series of actions to improve the delivery of direct stimulus payments to Americans. Those include establishing online tools for claiming payments, working to make sure those who have not yet accessed their funds get the relief, and analyzing unserved households to inform additional outreach efforts.

Friday's executive actions aim to help Americans ravaged by the pandemic as talks start on his proposed relief package. The Biden White House has not provided a timeline for getting that through.

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Associated Press

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