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Top House Democrats call on Biden administration to extend eviction moratorium

The Hill logo The Hill 8/2/2021 Mychael Schnell
Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden are posing for a picture: Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden © Julia Nikhinson/Getty Images Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden

Top House Democrats on Sunday called on the Biden administration to extend the eviction moratorium amid the coronavirus pandemic, hours after the ban expired, putting millions of Americans at risk of being forced out of their homes.

"Action is needed, and it must come from the Administration. That is why House leadership is calling on the Administration to immediately extend the moratorium," Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (D-Md.) wrote in a joint statement.

The group cited the rising risks associated with COVID-19, particularly with the highly infectious delta variant spreading throughout the country, as reasons why the moratorium should be extended through Oct. 18.

"As the CDC doubles down on mask-wearing and vaccination efforts, science and reason demand that they must also extend the moratorium in light of the delta variant," the lawmakers wrote. "Doing so is a moral imperative to keep people from being put out on the street which also contributes to the public health emergency."

The eviction moratorium expired at midnight on Saturday after the House left for recess two days earlier, unable to strike a deal on an extension.

The Biden administration called on Congress to pass an emergency extension of the eviction ban, set in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on Thursday, three days before it was set to expire.


Video: President Biden says Congress should extend eviction ban (CBS News)

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The Supreme Court last month ruled that while the CDC's moratorium could stay intact until its expiration date, the agency exceeded its authority when it put the ban in place. Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the ban could not be extended past its expiration date unless by an act of Congress.

The leading Democrats in their statement on Sunday contended that it "will not be sufficient" to extend the moratorium in the House because the Senate would not have the means to approve a bill.

"On Thursday, the President asked Congress to pass an extension of the eviction moratorium. Sadly, it is clear that the Senate is not able to do so, and any legislation in the House, therefore, will not be sufficient to extend the moratorium," the leaders wrote.

Some members in the Democratic Party, however, are not pleased with their colleagues' inability to pass an extension.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Sunday said Democrats cannot "in good faith blame the Republican Party" for the eviction ban expiring because Democrats have the majority in the House.

Progressive lawmakers, led by Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), who previously experienced homelessness, camped outside the Capitol on Friday night to protest the moratorium expiring. She called on House leadership to reconvene the lower chamber to pass an extension.

The top Democratic lawmakers, however, are now tossing the ball to the Treasury Department, urging the office to "indicate how the funds that it has already transferred to states and communities can be more effectively distributed to renters and landlords."

"The virus is still a threat. The moratorium must be extended, and the funds Congress allocated to assist renters and landlords must be spent. An extension of the moratorium is based on public health and the delta variant. It will also give more time to allow the money that Congress allocated to finally flow," the lawmakers added.

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

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