This could result in new guidance designed to undo the Trump administration’s directive to deny unemployment benefits.
On Friday President Joe Biden signed an executive order designed to make it easier for workers who refuse unsafe jobs in the midst of the raging coronavirus pandemic to get their unemployment benefits.
“We’re at a precarious moment in our economy. So many people are hanging by a thread,” Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, said during a conference call with reporters.
More than 900,000 people filed unemployment claims in the past week due to jobs or wages lost during the COVID-19 pandemic that has closed or shuttered many businesses across the nation and, as of Jan. 22, has claimed more than 410,000 lives in the US.
During the call, Deese spoke of the urgent need for Congress to act on Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic rescue package.
“These actions are not a substitute for comprehensive legislative relief,” Deese emphasized.
Biden’s Worker Protection Orders
Biden’s worker protection orders include directing the Department of Labor to specify that workers can be eligible for jobless benefits even if they refuse employment at a site that poses too high a risk of contracting the virus.
Trump’s administration had instructed states to deny benefits to those who refused jobs, despite protections in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act for people with underlying health conditions that add risks to job opportunities. However, some states still allowed people who turned down jobs to receive benefits if they had a higher risk of developing more serious illnesses.
Biden’s new order should result in the Labor Department sending states new guidance designed to reverse the Trump administration’s directive to deny benefits.
More Help for Families
Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic rescue package includes $1,400 checks for most Americans, a call to Congress to pass a federal $15 minimum wage to mitigate the economic ravages due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and hundreds of billions of dollars to accelerate coronavirus vaccinations. It also includes plans to allow states to give additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to the lowest-income families.