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Joe Biden is set to announce new eviction moratorium for renters


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday extended the eviction moratorium for 60 days, a move that risks being challenged in court and one that President Joe Biden admits may not be constitutional. 

CDC director Rochelle Walensky signed an order 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. 

President Joe 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.

But Biden said Tuesday he had spoken to several constitutional scholars and will see if the new announcement will ‘pass constitutional muster.’

‘The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster, number one. But there are several key scholars who think that it may, and it’s worth the effort,’ he said.

But, Biden noted, the order will ‘probably give some additional time’ for rental assistance funds to flow.  

The Supreme Court would likely have to issue a new ruling on any new orders out of the CDC. 

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. 

But Democrats expressed hope the new order would buy time for that money to flow. 

‘This brand new moratorium will provide time for the money allocated by Congress to flow, as it helps stop the spread of the virus which is worsening due to the delta variant and protects families and landlords,’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

President Joe Biden admitted new CDC order may be unconstitutional

The announcement came as the feud among Democrats over what to do about the eviction moratorium escalated on Tuesday when Pelosi refused to bring back Congress to vote on the matter.

Pelosi ruled out that option despite President Biden calling on Congress to extend the moratorium and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling her fellow lawmakers ‘cowards’ for refusing to vote on the issue.

On a call with House Democrats Tuesday, where Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin spoke with lawmakers, Pelosi made her stance clear.

She said the House should not come back from its recess and that lawmakers should focus on urging the Biden administration to extend the moratorium unilaterally, The Washington Post reported. 

Pelosi’s strong stance came after Ocasio-Cortez told Politico her fellow Democratic House members are ‘cowards’ who needed to come back into town and ‘put their names next to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote, or the White House needs to do a damn thing about [eviction moratoriums].’

Other liberal lawmakers joined in on the pressure campaign on the White House. Democratic Rep. Cori Bush has lead a sleep out on the front steps of the Capitol building to protest the matter. 

Bush praised the decision and credited the protest for the new CDC order. 

‘On Friday night, I came to the Capitol with my chair. I refused to accept that Congress could leave for vacation while 11 million people faced eviction. For 5 days, we’ve been out here, demanding that our government acts to save lives. Today, our movement moved mountains,’ she wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Any legislation addressing the eviction moratorium passed in the House would likely fail in the Senate. Democrats would need 10 Republicans to vote with them and GOP lawmakers oppose extending the moratorium.  

President Biden on Monday pleaded with landlords to hold off evictions for the next 30 days as his administration sought ways to extend a moratorium after Congress failed to do so.  

The federal eviction moratorium was put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in November. A June ruling by the Supreme Court led administration officials to concede the agency could not do so again. 

In Monday’s statement, Biden called on states and localities to extend or put in place evictions moratoria for at the least the next two months and for landlords to give a 30-day break. He directed federal agencies to extend all the moratorium they were allowed to do.

The administration also called on states to speed up issuing housing funds allocated through the American Rescue Plan.  

Rep. Cori Bush, second from left, has led a protest on front steps of Capitol for four days

Rep. Cori Bush, second from left, has led a protest on front steps of Capitol for four days

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez protests the expiration of the eviction moratorium on the front steps of the Capitol

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez protests the expiration of the eviction moratorium on the front steps of the Capitol

Speaker Nancy Pelosi ruled out bringing back Congress to do something about the eviction moratorium and pushed the Biden administration to use its executive powe

Speaker Nancy Pelosi ruled out bringing back Congress to do something about the eviction moratorium and pushed the Biden administration to use its executive powe

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 speaker put the onus back on President Biden’s administration after the House failed to pass an extension. Biden asked Congress to extend the moratorium after officials decided the Supreme Court’s June ruling meant the CDC couldn’t unilaterally extend it.

‘The purpose of the extension is to provide more time to expedite the distribution of the $46.5 billion that was allocated by Congress and that has long been transferred by the Administration to the states and localities,’ Pelosi said in a letter to Democrats on Monday. 

Some Democrats expressed frustration that Biden asked Congress to extend the moratorium two days before it was set to expire – even though the Supreme Court ruling had come down a month before in June.

White House relief coordinator Gene Sperling downplayed that on Monday. 

‘The wording in the Supreme Court opinion was fairly, you know, clear that they said the CDC did not, could not grant such extension, without quote, clear and specific congressional authorization,’ he said.

On Friday, House Republicans blocked passing an extension by unanimous consent. Democrats, who hold a three-seat majority in the House, didn’t have the votes in their own caucus to pass it either. 



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