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Biden says he ‘can’t guarantee’ courts won’t overturn his eviction moratorium


President Joe Biden conceded on Thursday he can’t guarantee the courts won’t find his new eviction moratorium unconstitutional but noted it will at least buy renters some time.

Biden told reporters at the White House he spoke to ‘a number of legal scholars’ about the moratorium and there was a ‘split’ in their opinion.  

‘I can’t guarantee you the court won’t rule that we don’t have that authority but at least we’ll have the ability to, if we have to appeal, to keep this going for a month – at least. I hope longer,’ he said. 

He added that he hoped it would give states time to distribute funds they have in their possession from an earlier allocation by Congress.

Distribution of rental assistance that Congress allocated in December and March has been painfully slow. The $47 billion Emergency Rental Assistance program has, to date, disbursed only $3 billion.

President Joe Biden conceded he can’t guarantee the courts won’t find his new eviction moratorium unconstitutional

Housing advocates protest outside Governor Andrew Cuomo's office on the eviction moratorium on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, in New York

Housing advocates protest outside Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office on the eviction moratorium on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, in New York

Rep. Cori Bush talks to protesters at the Capitol who were pushing to extend the eviction moratorium

Rep. Cori Bush talks to protesters at the Capitol who were pushing to extend the eviction moratorium

But some landlords have already struck at the new order.

Groups representing landlords who say they are suffering under the Biden administration’s eviction moratorium filed suit in federal court Wednesday – claiming the CDC’s latest extension of the moratorium is ‘unlawful.’

Landlord group argues that the administration was acting for ‘nakedly political reasons’ when it cobbled together a new extension this week, days after a prior Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extension had lapsed.

The landlord groups late Wednesday asked a U.S. judge in Washington to immediately lift the new eviction moratorium that was put in place Tuesday by the CDC, saying the new order was ‘unlawful.’ 

The Alabama Association of Realtors and others said in an emergency filing the CDC issued the new order ‘for nakedly political reasons – to ease the political pressure, shift the blame to the courts for ending the moratorium, and use litigation delays to achieve a policy objective.’ 

CDC director Rochelle Walensky signed an order on Tuesday that determined the ‘evictions of tenants for failure to make rent or housing payments could be detrimental to public health control measures’ to slow the spread of COVID, the agency announced.

The order expands the eviction moratorium until October 3 and applies to counties ‘experience substantial and high levels’ of COVID transmission.

The order will allow more time ‘to further increase vaccination rates,’ the CDC said, calling it an ‘effective public health measure.’  

‘This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads,’ Walensky said. ‘Such mass evictions and the attendant public health consequences would be very difficult to reverse.’ 

It will cover about 90 per cent of renters in the country, White House officials said. 

Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  and Cori Bush celebrate after news of the new CDC order on Tuesday after leading a camp out on the Capitol steps for four days

Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  and Cori Bush celebrate after news of the new CDC order on Tuesday after leading a camp out on the Capitol steps for four days

CDC director Rochelle Walensky signed an order extending the eviction moratorium to Oct. 3

CDC director Rochelle Walensky signed an order extending the eviction moratorium to Oct. 3

President Biden was under intense pressure from the liberal wing of his party to do something to help renters suffering under the pandemic. The White House had pushed the issue to Congress and the states after deciding a June Supreme Court ruling prevented additional executive action.  

More than 15 million people live in households that owe as much as $20 billion to their landlords, according to the Aspen Institute. As of July 5, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

The new order was necessary amid a battle among Democrats on how to help renters.

Biden pushed Congress and the states to act.

But Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear she did not have the votes in the House to pass an eviction moratorium and put the onus back on Biden.

Democratic Reps. Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez led a four-night camp out on the U.S. Capitol front steps to protest the inaction.

Biden was struggling how to do deal with the original eviction moratorium put in place by the CDC, which had expired.  

In June, a divided Supreme Court agreed to let the CDC moratorium remain in effect after the CDC announced it would allow the ban to expire on July 31.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued a concurring opinion saying in his view extending the CDC moratorium past July 31 would need ‘clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation).’

Under pressure from President Biden and Democrats in Congress, the CDC issued a slightly narrower eviction ban on Tuesday that focused on counties with high rates of COVID infections. The White House said that would cover 90 per cent of renters.



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