The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued a new moratorium on evictions that will last until October 3, as the Biden administration sought to quell intense criticism that it would allow vulnerable renters to lose their homes during a pandemic. Had been.
The new moratorium could help keep millions of people in their homes as the delta version of the coronavirus spreads and states have been slow to release federal rental aid. It will temporarily halt evacuations in counties with “substantial and high levels” of transmission of the virus and cover areas where 90% of the US population lives.
The announcement was reversed for the Biden administration after it said a Supreme Court ruling blocked the postponement. But the choice to introduce a new measure in the face of legal uncertainty was also a victory for progressive lawmakers, who asked the White House to do more to prevent the nearly 3.6 million Americans from losing their homes during the COVID-19 crisis. inspired.
President Joe Biden paused Tuesday afternoon to announce a new ban on evictions during a White House press conference delegating responsibility to the CDC.
“My hope is that this will be a new adjournment,” Biden told reporters.
The new policy comes amid a scramble by the Biden team to reassure Democrats and the country that it can find a way to limit the damage from potential evictions through the use of federal aid. But the pressure mounted as prominent lawmakers said it was not enough.
Top Democratic leaders join Rep. Cory Bush, D-Mo, who has been camped outside the US Capitol. The freshman congresswoman once lived in her car as a young mother and was leading a passionate protest urging the White House to stop the widespread evictions.
“For 5 days, we are out of here, demanding that our government work to save lives,” she tweeted. “Today, our movement shook the mountains.”
Administration officials have previously said a Supreme Court decision would prevent them from setting a new moratorium without Congressional support, saying that states and cities on the verge of eviction would provide about $47 billion in relief for renters. Must be more aggressive in issuing.
The president said he sought input from legal scholars about the option and said the advice was mixed, though some suggested, “it’s worth the effort.” Biden also said he did not want to tell the CDC, which has led public health in its response to the pandemic, what to do.
“I asked the CDC to go back and consider other options that may be available,” he said.
CDC identified a legal authority for new, separate moratoriums for areas with high and substantial increases in COVID-19 infections.
Biden also stressed that there is federal funding available – about $47 billion first approved during the COVID-19 crisis – that is needed to get out the door to help renters and landlords.
“The money is there,” Biden said.
The White House has said state and local governments have been slow to get that federal money out and are pressuring them to do so quickly.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen briefed House Democrats on Tuesday about ongoing work to ensure federal housing aid makes it to renters and landlords. According to a person on the call, he provided the data so that MPs can see how their districts and states are performing with relief distribution.
The Treasury secretary tried to encourage Democrats to work together, even as lawmakers said Biden should act on his own to extend the eviction moratorium, according to someone on the private call , which insisted on anonymity to discuss its content.
The CDC imposed early eviction restrictions as part of the COVID-19 response when many workers lost their income. The purpose of the ban was to prevent the spread of the virus among people kept on the streets and in shelters.
Democratic lawmakers said they were surprised by Biden’s decision to end the moratorium, generating frustration and anger and highlighting a rare rift with the administration. The CDC indicated in late June that it likely would not extend the eviction ban beyond the end of July.
Maxine Waters, the powerful chair of the Financial Services Committee, has been speaking with Yellen privately for several days and urged the Treasury secretary to use her influence to get money out the door to states. But Waters also called on the CDC to act itself.
Following the CDC’s announcement on Tuesday, Waters issued a statement thanking Biden for “listening and encouraging CDC to act! This extension of the moratorium is the lifeline millions of families have been waiting for.”