by Lisa Mascaro
WASHINGTON (AP) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic leaders on Sunday called on the Biden administration to immediately extend the country’s eviction moratorium, calling it a “moral imperative” to allow Americans to get out of their homes during a COVID-19 outbreak. to be prevented. 19 bounce.
An estimated 3.6 billion Americans are at risk of eviction, some as early as Monday.
Congress was unable to pass legislation swiftly to extend the ban, which expires at midnight on Saturday, and Democratic leaders said in a statement that it was now up to President Joe Biden’s administration to act. He called upon the administration to extend the moratorium till October 18.
“Action is needed, and it must come from the administration,” Pelosi told Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Whip James E. said in a statement signed by Clyburn and Assistant Chairman Katherine Clark. “Science and reason demand that they should extend the moratorium in light of the delta version. It is a moral imperative to do so.”
Some Democratic lawmakers said they were taken by surprise last Thursday when Biden announced he would not extend the moratorium again in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that suggested Congressional action was needed for another extension. Was. Lawmakers had only a few days to act before the ban ended, causing frustration and anger and exposing a rare rift with the administration.
On Sunday, hours after the termination, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D.N.Y., said Democrats had to “call a spade a spade” and pointed to her party.
“We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when the House Democrats have a majority,” the progressive congressman said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats joined Representative Corey Bush, D-Mo., who camped outside the Capitol over the weekend in protest.
On Saturday, with no legislative action pending, the chairman of the Financial Services Committee, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., told CNN, “We thought the White House was in charge.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention imposed the ban as part of the COVID-19 response when jobs shifted and 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.
Another source of dismay for lawmakers is the slow pace of pandemic relief already approved by Congress – about $47 billion in federal housing aid to states – paying renters and landlords arrears. Biden has called on local governments to “take every step possible” for the immediate distribution of funds.
“There can be no excuse for any state or territory not to expedite funding to landlords and tenants who have been hurt during this pandemic,” Biden said in a statement Friday.
Brian Deez, the director of the White House National Economic Council, appeared on “Fox News Sunday” to echo that sentiment. “No landlord should be evicted without that rental assistance, and states and localities need to take that money out immediately, and they can do that,” Deez said.
The landlords have also argued for expediting the distribution of rental assistance and opposed a further extension of the moratorium.
As the deadline drew closer on Saturday night, Pelosi urged House Democrats to examine how already allocated funds have been distributed so far in their own states and territories. He said the Treasury Department, which transferred the money earlier in the year, offered the brief to lawmakers during the coming week.
When the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in late June to allow the sweeping eviction ban to continue until the end of July, one of the majority, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, made it clear that he would not allow any additional extensions until then. unless there is “clear and specific congressional authority.”
The White House has said Biden wanted to extend the moratorium but concerns remained about challenging the court. Doing so could result in a decision restricting the ability of the administration to respond to future public health crises.
Rushing to respond to Biden’s announcement on Thursday that Congressional action was needed, Democrats pressed for a bill to draft and rally votes. Waters drafted a bill that would require the CDC to continue with the ban until December 31. In a hurried hearing on Friday morning to consider the bill, he urged his colleagues to act.
In the end, Democratic lawmakers had questions and concerns and could not muster support to extend the ban.
Washington Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the top Republican on another panel handling the issue, said the Democrats’ bill was taken in haste and “is not the way to legislate.”