A House panel will convene Friday morning to try and push a long-shot effort to extend the federal eviction moratorium after the Biden administration said it would let it expire Saturday.
The group will gather at 8 a.m. EST Friday, not long after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) released a “Dear Colleague” letter Thursday night calling on her members to honor the president’s request.
Warning that “families must not pay the price” for the slow distribution of Congressionally-approved funds, the top ranking House Democrat went on to say that, “Extending the eviction moratorium is a moral imperative — and one that is simple and necessary, since Congress has already allocated resources that assist both renters and housing providers.”
The White House confirmed earlier Thursday that Biden would allow the moratorium to expire, but called on Congress to pass new protections due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the move, arguing the commander-in-chief’s hands were tied by a recent Supreme Court decision that found there would need to be congressional authorization to extend a CDC-imposed ban on evictions beyond July 31.
“Given the recent spread of the Delta variant … Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium,” Psaki said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available,” she added.
“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.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) slammed the Biden administration over the move to Punchbowl News Thursday night.
“For the White House to do this right before we’re about to leave [on August recess] is just, it’s ridiculous,” the far left pol said.
“I don’t want to hear any of the spin about how they’ve been trying this whole time, there has not been the advocacy, the voice, etcetera, that we needed to have on this issue. I sit on Financial Services, which has jurisdiction over housing, we have the secretary right there. And we asked about the administration’s stance. And we weren’t getting any commitment on advocacy for extension. So I’m not here for the excuses about how this is the court’s fault. This is on the administration.”
The CDC’s eviction moratorium was set up last year by President Donald Trump after Congress deadlocked on COVID-19 relief legislation that would have extended an initial legislated moratorium.
Although the moratorium was legally dubious, Trump said he had to act due to partisan gridlock. Trump also unilaterally resurrected a federal unemployment supplement and paused federal student loan payments and interest.
A patchwork of state and local policies will replace the federal evictions ban, and the White House has said it’s encouraging states to adopt diversion plans for people who agree to get back on track with rent.
But it’s also a political liability for Biden, who regularly emphasizes the effects of the pandemic on lower-income people, especially on mothers unable to work due to enhanced child care duties caused by schools closing.
It is not clear what the outcome of the Rules Committee efforts Friday will be. Even if such an effort was able to pass the House, it would face a bleak future in the Senate.
The Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, though Vice President Kamala Harris, as Senate president, has a tie-breaking vote.
Still, 51 votes are not enough under current rules to break through the filibuster, the Senate rule requiring 60 members to end debate on most topics and move forward to a vote.