CDC Issues New Eviction Ban 08/04 06:21
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new eviction
moratorium that would last until Oct. 3, as the Biden administration sought to
quell intensifying criticism from progressives that it was allowing vulnerable
renters to lose their homes during a pandemic.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a
new eviction moratorium that would last until Oct. 3, as the Biden
administration sought to quell intensifying criticism from progressives that it
was allowing vulnerable renters to lose their homes during a pandemic.
The ban announced Tuesday could help keep millions in their homes as the
coronavirus' delta variant has spread and states have been slow to release
federal rental aid. It would temporarily halt evictions in counties with
"substantial and high levels" of virus transmissions and would cover areas
where 90% of the U.S. population lives.
The announcement was a reversal for the Biden administration, which allowed
an earlier moratorium to lapse over the weekend after saying a Supreme Court
ruling prevented an extension. That ripped open a dramatic split between the
White House and progressive Democrats who insisted the administration do more
to prevent some 3.6 million Americans from losing their homes during the
Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, Biden said he pushed the CDC to
again consider its options. But he still seemed hesitant as to whether the new
moratorium could withstand lawsuits about its constitutionality, saying he has
sought the opinions of experts as to whether the Supreme Court would approve
"The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it's not likely to
pass constitutional muster," Biden said. "But there are several key scholars
who think that it may and it's worth the effort."
The president added that the moratorium -- even if it gets challenged in
court -- "will probably give some additional time" for states and city to
release billions of dollars in federal relief to renters.
Politically, the extension could help heal a rift with liberal Democratic
lawmakers who were calling on the president to take executive action to keep
renters in their homes. The administration had spent the past several days
scrambling to reassure Democrats and the country that it could find a way to
limit the damage from potential evictions through the use of federal aid.
But pressure mounted as key lawmakers said it was not enough.
Top Democratic leaders joined Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who has been camped
outside the U.S. Capitol for several days. The freshman congresswoman once
lived in her car as a young mother and pointed to that experience to urge the
White House to prevent widespread evictions.
As she wiped her eyes before a crowd at the Capitol after the CDC's
announcement, Bush said she was shedding "joyful tears."
"My God, I don't believe we did this," she said. "We just did the work, just
by loving folks to keep millions in their homes."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was a day of "extraordinary relief."
"The imminent fear of eviction and being put out on the street has been
lifted for countless families across America. Help is Here!" Pelosi said in a
Administration officials had previously said a Supreme Court ruling stopped
them from setting up a new moratorium without congressional backing. When the
court allowed the eviction ban to remain in place through the end of July by a
5-4 vote, one justice in the majority, Brett Kavanaugh, wrote that Congress
would have to act to extend it further.
But on Tuesday, the CDC cited the slow pace of state and local governments
disbursing housing aid as justification for the new moratorium.
Aside from the moratorium, Biden has insisted that federal money is
available -- some $47 billion previously approved during the pandemic -- that
needs to get out the door to help renters and landlords.
"The money is there," Biden said.
The White House has said state and local governments have been slow to push
out that federal money and is pressing them to do so swiftly.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen briefed House Democrats Tuesday about the
work underway to ensure the federal housing aid makes it to renters and
landlords. She provided data so that lawmakers could see how their districts
and states are performing with distributing the relief, according to a person
on the call.
The treasury secretary tried to encourage Democrats to work together, even
as lawmakers said Biden should act on his own to extend the eviction
moratorium, according to someone on the private call who insisted on anonymity
to discuss its contents.
Yellen said on the call, according to this person, that she agrees "we need
to bring every resource to bear" and that she appreciated the Democrats'
efforts and wants "to leave no stone unturned."
The CDC put the initial eviction ban in place as part of the COVID-19
response when jobs shifted and many workers lost income. The ban was intended
to hold back the spread of the virus among people put out on the streets and
into shelters, but it also penalized landlords who lost income as a result.
National Apartment Association president and CEO Bob Pinnegar said the
organization "has always held the same position -- the eviction moratorium is
an unfunded government mandate that forces housing providers to deliver a
costly service without compensation and saddles renters with insurmountable
Democratic lawmakers said they were caught by surprise by Biden's initial
decision to end the moratorium even though the CDC indicated in late June that
it probably wouldn't extend the eviction ban beyond the end of July.
Rep. Maxine Waters, the powerful chair of the Financial Services Committee,
has been talking privately for days with Yellen and urged the treasury
secretary to use her influence to prod states to push the money out the door.
But Waters also called on the CDC to act on its own.
After the CDC's announcement Tuesday, Waters released a statement thanking
Biden "for listening and for encouraging the CDC to act! This extension of the
moratorium is the lifeline that millions of families have been waiting for."