President Joe 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 and the White House conceded they have no legal grounds to act.
‘You can be sure of one thing, whatever is in the power of this president to do to prevent evictions he is committed to doing,’ American Rescue Plan Coordinator Gene Sperling said Monday at the daily press briefing. ‘This is a president who really understands the heartbreak of eviction.’
In a lengthy statement on the crisis, which will see thousands lose their homes as rent becomes due at the first of the month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted the president asked his administration to come up with executive action to extend the moratorium.
But, she conceded, they were unable to do so.
‘CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and her team have been unable to find legal authority for a new, targeted eviction moratorium. Our team is redoubling efforts to identify all available legal authorities to provide necessary protections,’ she said.
President Joe Biden pleaded with landlords to hold off evictions for the next 30 days as his administration sought ways to extend a moratorium
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.
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.
‘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,’ Psaki said in her statement.
‘On Thursday, @POTUS asked Congress to pass an extension of the eviction moratorium. Sadly, it’s clear the Senate is not able to do so & any legislation in the House, therefore, won’t be sufficient to extend the moratorium. Action is needed & it must come from the Administration,’ she wrote.
The White House defended its actions.
President Biden ‘has double, triple, quadruple check. He has asked the CDC to look at whether you could even do targeted eviction moratorium that just went to the counties that have higher [COVID] rates, and they, as well, have been unable to find the legal authority for even new targeted eviction moratoriums,’ Sperling said.
Pelosi said she welcomed the news from the White House.
‘The Administration’s statement that they will be taking action to find legal authority by the CDC or other authorities to extend the moratorium is welcome. For the good of families on the verge of eviction, my Democratic House colleagues and I are hopeful that this initiative to extend the moratorium will be successful as soon as possible,’ she said in a statement on Monday.
Anger is growing among Democrats as the administration and leadership struggle to find a solution to the eviction crisis.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria 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]. … At the end of the day, the emergency is here. And so we need to exercise all avenues.’
And Democratic Rep. Cori Bush camped out on the Capitol steps for the third night in a row to protest the lack of action on the issue.
‘Since Friday – when some colleagues chose early vacation over voting to prevent evictions – we’ve been at the Capitol. It’s an eviction emergency. Our people need an eviction moratorium. Now,’ Bush wrote on Twitter early Monday morning after spending her third night sleeping outside.
Ocasio-Cortez joined Bush and the others on steps to protest the lack of help for those facing eviction.
Bush also met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday.
‘I just had a conversation with @VP Kamala Harris. I needed her to look me in my eyes and I wanted to look in hers when I asked for help to prevent our people from being evicted. Madam Vice President, let’s work together to get this done. We need a federal eviction moratorium,’ she tweeted.
Harris was on Capitol Hill in case she was needed to break any tie votes in the Senate.
Activists have been sleeping on the Capitol steps to protest the eviction moratorium lapsing
Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York (center) and Cori Bush of Missouri (right) are among those protesting
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 is putting the onus back on President Joe 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.
She noted Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin would brief Democrats on the issue during a call on Tuesday.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday again pressed the White House to extend the eviction moratorium after lawmakers failed to act
Democratic Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri has slept on the Capitol stairs three nights in a row
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.
Sperling just down played that.
‘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.
Now administration officials are putting it on the states to distribute aid from COVID relief passed earlier this year more quickly and completely.
‘We just need the states and localities to move quickly and effectively,’ Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, said on Fox News Sunday.