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
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
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
"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
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
"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
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
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."