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Dems Call on Biden Over Eviction Ban   08/02 06:18

   House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic leaders called on the 
Biden administration to immediately extend the nation's eviction moratorium, 
calling it a "moral imperative" to prevent Americans from being put out of 
their homes during a COVID-19 surge.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic 
leaders called on the Biden administration to immediately extend the nation's 
eviction moratorium, calling it a "moral imperative" to prevent Americans from 
being put out of their homes during a COVID-19 surge.

   An estimated 3.6 million Americans are at risk of eviction, some as soon as 
Monday.

   Congress was unable to pass legislation swiftly to extend the ban, which 
expired at midnight Saturday, and the Democratic leaders said in a statement 
that it was now up to President Joe Biden's administration to act. They called 
on the administration to extend the moratorium through Oct. 18.

   "Action is needed, and it must come from the Administration," Pelosi said 
Sunday night in the statement signed by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Whip James 
E. Clyburn and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark. "Science and reason demand 
that they must also extend the moratorium in light of the delta variant. Doing 
so is a moral imperative."

   The White House, which has urged localities and states to tap aid already 
approved by Congress, had no direct response to the Democrats' call for action.

   Some Democratic lawmakers said they were caught by surprise last Thursday 
when Biden announced that he would not extend the moratorium again in the wake 
of a Supreme Court ruling that suggested congressional action was necessary for 
another extension. Lawmakers were left with only days to act before the ban 
expired, creating frustration and anger and exposing a rare rift with the 
administration.

   On Sunday, hours after the expiration, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 
D-N.Y., said that Democrats had to "call a spade a spade" and pointed to her 
own party.

   "We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats 
have a majority," the progressive congresswoman said on CNN's "State of the 
Union."

   Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats joined Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who camped 
outside the Capitol over the weekend in protest.

   On Saturday, with no legislative action pending, Rep. Maxine Waters, 
D-Calif., the chair of the Financial Services Committee, told CNN, "We thought 
that the White House was in charge."

   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put the ban in place as part 
of the COVID-19 response when jobs shifted and many workers lost income. The 
ban was intended to hold back the spread of the virus among people put out on 
the streets and into shelters.

   Another source of frustration for lawmakers is the slow pace of pandemic 
relief already approved by Congress -- nearly $47 billion in federal housing 
aid to the states -- getting to renters and landlords owed payments. Biden has 
called on local governments to "take all possible steps" to disburse the funds 
immediately.

   "There can be no excuse for any state or locality not accelerating funds to 
landlords and tenants that have been hurt during this pandemic," Biden said in 
a statement Friday.

   Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, appeared 
on "Fox News Sunday" to echo that sentiment. "No landlord should evict without 
seeking that rental assistance, and states and localities need to get that 
money out urgently, and they can do that," Deese said.

   Landlords also have argued for speeding up the distribution of rental 
assistance and opposed another extension of the moratorium.

   As the deadline approached Saturday night, Pelosi urged House Democrats to 
check into how the money already allocated had been distributed so far in their 
own states and localities. She said the Treasury Department, which transferred 
the funds earlier in the year, offered to brief lawmakers during the coming 
week.

   When the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in late June to allow the broad eviction 
ban to continue through the end of July, one of those in the majority, Justice 
Brett Kavanaugh, made clear he would block any additional extensions unless 
there was "clear and specific congressional authorization."

   The White House has maintained that Biden wanted to extend the moratorium 
but that concerns remained over challenging the court. Doing so could lead to a 
ruling restricting the administration's ability to respond to future public 
health crises.

   While racing to respond to Biden's announcement Thursday that congressional 
action was needed, Democrats strained to draft a bill and rally the votes. 
Waters produced a draft of a bill that would require the CDC to continue the 
ban through Dec. 31. At a hastily arranged hearing Friday morning to consider 
the bill, she urged her colleagues to act.

   In the end, Democratic lawmakers had questions and concerns and could not 
muster support to extend the ban.

   Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the top Republican on another 
panel handling the issue, said the Democrats' bill was rushed and that "this is 
not the way to legislate."

 
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