LIVE: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Holds News Conference

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Published at : 22 Jan 2021
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(Jan. 22) Watch live as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Friday, January 22, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

President Joe Biden will mark his third day in office with executive actions to boost food assistance for impoverished Americans and use federal contracts as a step toward his proposed nationwide minimum-wage hike, seeking immediate help for an economy struggling to cope with Covid-19.

The executive actions Biden is set to sign Friday at the White House also include a restoration of rights for federal workers that were stripped by his predecessor Donald Trump.

While consequential for those affected, the measures offer a shadow of the relief included in Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 aid plan. That package faces challenges in Congress after moderate Republicans this week said they saw no need to rush on another big spending bill after last month’s $900 billion effort. Senator Susan Collins of Maine on Thursday became the latest to express opposition to the idea of a big new package, while Senator Roy Blunt, a member of GOP leadership, called it a “non-starter.”

“These actions are not a substitute for comprehensive legislative relief of the form that is in the American rescue plan,” said Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council. “But they will provide a critical lifeline to millions of American families and that is why the president is going to act quickly on these steps.”

Deese is planning to discuss Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion package with a 16-member bipartisan group of senators in coming days, according to aides familiar with the matter.

Democrats, meanwhile, are discussing making an end-run around Republicans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told donors on a Zoom call Thursday night she had wanted to pass Biden’s Covid-19 relief legislation via the budget reconciliation process in two weeks, according to a person familiar with the comments. That process could eliminate the need for Republican support in the Senate by lowering the threshold for passage to a simple majority.

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