President Biden, pressed by lawmakers to take action on the expired home eviction moratorium, called on states to use the nearly $47 billion in unspent rental assistance included in the coronavirus relief packages passed by Congress to aid renters and homeowners after the ban expired over the weekend.
The administration suggested that course of action on Monday following the Supreme Court’s decision in June that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not have the authority to extend the ban.
The ruling pushed the matter to Congress.
”As the administration made clear last week, there is no excuse for any state or locality not to promptly deploy the resources that Congress appropriated to meet the critical need of so many Americans,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
“This assistance provides the funding to pay landlords current and back rent so tenants can remain in their homes or apartments, not be evicted. No one in America should be evicted when federal funds are available, in the hands of state and local government, to pay back rent due,” it said.
The White House said it encouraged the CDC on Sunday to extend the moratorium using executive action.
But “to date, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has been unable to find legal authority for a new, targeted eviction moratorium,” the statement said, adding that the administration is still searching for legal solutions.
The funds were included in the coronavirus relief act passed last December and the American Rescue Plan approved in March.
“We have to really just call a spade a spade — we cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have a majority,” she said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The White House has been under pressure from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of Congress’ far-left “Squad” members to extend the eviction moratorium.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed the White House and her Democratic colleagues for failing to extend the ban.
The Bronx Democrat urged leadership to reconvene the House to take care of the moratorium.
“The fact of the matter is that the problem is here, the House should reconvene and call this vote and extend the moratorium,” AOC said. “There’s about 11 million people that are behind on their rent at risk of eviction. That’s one out of every six renters in the United States.”
Pelosi said it was “unfathomable” that about 3.6 million Americans could be tossed from their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, and members of “The Squad” camped out on the Capitol steps over the weekend to press the White House to extend the ban.
Democratic congressional leaders said it was up to the president to act after Congress left for August recess after failing to pass legislation over the weekend to extend it.
“It is clear that the Senate is not able to [extend the ban], and any legislation in the House, therefore, will not be sufficient,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to the White House. “Action is needed, and it must come from the administration.”
Pelosi urged the administration to extend the ban until Oct. 18, giving the government time to distribute $47 billion in congressionally approved housing assistance to renters and landlords.
The CDC announced the moratorium during the pandemic to protect millions of renters and homeowners.
But the Supreme Court ruled in June that the CDC overstepped its authority and said it is up to Congress, not the president, to extend the protections.
The court also set the July 31 deadline for the ban to expire.
The White House didn’t challenge the ruling and waited until late last week to push Congress to legislate a solution.
”In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the president calls on Congress to extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement last Thursday.
Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) tweeted on Monday that she is still camped out on the Capitol steps.
”5 AM. This morning felt cold, like the wind was blowing straight through my sleeping bag. Since Friday — when some colleagues chose early vacation over voting to prevent evictions — we’ve been at the Capitol,” she said in the post.
“It’s an eviction emergency. Our people need an eviction moratorium. Now.”
With Post wires