After the Biden administration spent days saying it could not re-impose an eviction moratorium without Congress taking action, it is poised to do just that.
New guidance coming from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will ban evictions in counties in which the CDC says there are high rates of COVID-19 transmission, according to The Hill, which quoted unnamed sources as the basis for its report.
The Hill reported the moratorium would let renters skip out on the payments for another 60 days and said it would cover about 90 percent of renters in the United States.
A ban on evictions was among the relief measures passed in March 2020 when lockdowns led to employers closing their doors, leaving millions unable to pay their rent. Since then, the economy has largely reopened and long-term unemployment has lessened.
President Joe Biden said Tuesday that a plan was in the works.
“I have been informed [the CDC is] about to make a judgment as to potential other options. Whether that option will pass constitutional measure with this administration, I can’t tell you. I don’t know,” Biden said, according to The Washington Post. “The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster … But there are several key scholars who think that it may and it’s worth the effort.”
Biden said enacting a policy that might not be quite legal is a good thing.
“But, at a minimum, by the time it gets litigated it will probably give some additional time while we’re getting that $45 billion out to people who are in fact behind in the rent and don’t have the money,” he said, according to The Hill.
Biden was referring to coronavirus relief money passed by Congress that is in the process of filtering through state and local governments to reach eligible recipients.
— Ken Blackwell (@kenblackwell) August 3, 2021
The Supreme Court had ruled that the previous eviction moratorium’s authority expired July 31. since that ruling, progressive Democrats have been demanding that the moratorium be extended.
The Biden administration had responded by saying it could not do so.
“On this particular issue, the president has not only kicked the tires; he has double, triple, quadruple checked,” White House official Gene Sperling said Monday. “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 rates — and they, as well, have been unable to find the legal authority for even new, targeted eviction moratoriums.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said giving renters more time to avoid paying the rent is “based on public health needs.”
“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. I am especially pleased about what this means to the children who have had uncertainty about their housing, their health and their education,” she said.
We need a permanent eviction moratorium. Anything less is capitulation to the landlord class.
— New York Young Communist League (@YCLUSA_NY) August 3, 2021
Pelosi had been the target of criticism from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for the moratorium lapsing.
“The House and House leadership had the opportunity to vote to extend the moratorium, and there was frankly a handful of conservative Democrats in the House who threatened to get on planes rather than hold this vote,” the New York Democrat said Sunday, according to Fox News. “We have to really just call a spade a spade. We cannot, in good faith, blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have the majority.”
Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California said the issue put a wedge between progressives and the White House, according to the Post.
“Since the president’s term [started], I haven’t seen this much frustration — anger — in the progressive caucus,” he said, adding that the White House’s action when it said it could do nothing, “makes absolutely no sense from a public health perspective.”
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