Biden to issue targeted eviction moratorium
The Biden administration will announce Tuesday a targeted eviction moratorium after a wide-ranging federal ban expired over the weekend, three sources familiar with the plans confirmed to The Hill.
The new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will ban evictions in counties with high rates of COVID-19 transmission, the sources said, aligning with areas where the CDC recommends even vaccinated residents wear masks while indoors.
The new moratorium was expected to be publicly released Tuesday afternoon. It is expected to last for 60 days, according to a congressional source familiar with the plan, and it will cover roughly 90 percent of renters in the United States.
Biden was asked multiple times about the impending announcement at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon. He insisted he did not want to get ahead of the CDC, but seemed to acknowledge the new order is likely to face legal challenges.
“Whether that option will pass constitutional measure with this administration, I can’t tell you. I don’t know,” Biden said. “There are a few scholars who say it will, and others who say it’s not likely to. 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.”
The move comes after days of outcry from Democrats over the lapsed moratorium, which had been in place since the early months of the pandemic. The White House had insisted Monday its hands were tied and only Congress could pass an extension, but Democratic leaders said the Biden administration was in a position to act.
“Democrats have worked tirelessly for this action, which is based on public health needs,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “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.”
The Supreme Court upheld the CDC’s moratorium, reversing a ruling from a federal appeals court June 29, but warned that a further extension of the ban beyond its July 31 deadline would exceed the agency’s authority unless Congress passed a law to expand it. The House did not attempt to do so until Friday, two days before the ban lapsed and one day after Biden asked Congress to extend the CDC moratorium.
White House officials said Monday that the agency was unable to justify even a narrowed extension of the ban to hard-hit areas given the court’s decision.
“To date, the CDC director and her team have been unable to find legal authority, even for a more targeted eviction moratorium that would focus just on counties with higher rates of COVID spread,” said Gene Sperling, Biden’s economic recovery czar.
Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), who camped out outside the Capitol complex for days to draw attention to the expiring moratorium, celebrated news of a pending extension.
“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,” Bush tweeted. “For 5 days, we’ve been out here, demanding that our government acts to save lives. Today, our movement moved mountains.”
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.
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) August 3, 2021
Updated at 5:45 p.m.