President Biden is expected to sign dozens of executive orders in his first days in office. He signed 15 in his first day, shortly after the inauguration ceremony, and plans to sign another 10 Thursday — his first full day in office.
Chief among the new president's priorities is bolstering the ailing U.S. economy. Nearly 16 million people are currently receiving some sort of unemployment benefits, many as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are some of Biden's first executive orders geared toward strengthening the economy, and other proposals he and his administration plan to put forth to help American households.
A federal ban on evictions was set to expire at the end of January, even as 14 million Americans struggle to pay rent, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Biden has extended that ban through March, and is expected to ask Congress to keep it in place through September.
The president also called upon agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to extend a moratorium on foreclosures on federally guaranteed mortgages through March. Those agencies were asked to continue accepting forbearance applications for borrowers.
As of October, there were roughly 3.6 million delinquent mortgages, of which 2.7 million are included in coronavirus bailout programs.
"The executive orders on the foreclosures and the evictions were definitely needed," says Texas-based real estate attorney Rachel Khirallah. "Both of these programs are going to offer some sort of reprieve as far as imminent danger of being kicked out of your home or having your home foreclosed on. But, of course, they're not a long-term solution."
Khirallah noted that many landlords depend on the funds from their properties, and these orders can put a strain on them and the rest of the economy too. But for now, she says that extending the programs helped forestall "a disaster."
Video by David Fang
During his first day, Biden also extended the moratorium on federal student loan payments until September. The measure had been scheduled to end this month. The moratorium sets interest rates for qualifying loans at 0%, and does not require borrowers to make payments.
The order will affect 42 million student loan borrowers, 90% of which have taken advantage of the pause on payments.
"Normally we don't like forbearances because they accrue interest, and therefore leave students in worse shape than when they started," Betsy Mayotte, president and founder of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors, previously told Grow. "Because of the 0% interest rate, it's actually a great option if someone has been financially impacted by the pandemic."
As many as 77% of student loan borrowers don't feel financially secure enough to resume payments until June or later, according to Student Debt Crisis. This order will offer them much-needed reprieve.
Last week, the administration unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package proposing stimulus measures including direct payments of $1,400 to most Americans, federal unemployment benefits of $400 per week through the end of September, and a $15 federal minimum wage.
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