Yellen to brief House Democrats on Tuesday on rental aid

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen answers questions during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing to examine the FY 2022 budget request for the Treasury Department on Wednesday, June 23, 2021.
Greg Nash

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will brief House Democrats on Tuesday about the efforts to distribute $46.5 billion in rental assistance to millions of Americans who are facing eviction.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the briefing in a Monday letter to House Democrats outlining the current status of rental assistance since the federal ban on evictions lapsed over the weekend.

President Biden last week urged Congress to take action to extend the eviction moratorium, which has been in place since last year, given a recent Supreme Court ruling that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exceeded its authority in enacting it.

But top House Democrats are pressing the Biden administration to take action on its own to extend the moratorium. House Democrats were unable to round up the votes in their own caucus last Friday to pass legislation that would extend the ban amid resistance from some moderates skeptical of renewing the moratorium while most federal pandemic assistance to help renters remains unspent. 

And even if the House passed such a bill, it would likely stall in the Senate given widespread GOP opposition to renewing the eviction moratorium.

“It is unfathomable that we would not act to prevent people from being evicted. Overwhelmingly, our members agreed to extend the moratorium and universally, to distribute the funds. But the House passing the eviction moratorium without the Senate acting does not extend the moratorium. Instead, the money must flow, and the moratorium must be extended by the Administration,” Pelosi wrote in Monday’s letter.

The House adjourned on Friday for its August recess, with many members now back in their districts for the break. Pelosi noted that the House is “on 24-hour notice” in the event they need to return to Washington for any urgent legislative action.

Congress allocated $46.5 billion worth of rental assistance through pandemic relief measures, but so far only about $3 billion of that funding has been spent. 

Pelosi urged Democrats to “please use this time in your communities to urge the immediate disbursement of funds to tenants and landlords.”

House Democratic leaders and the Biden administration are facing immense pressure from progressives to take immediate action to prevent mass evictions that could affect millions of Americans.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), who has been evicted three times and lived out of her car for a period before becoming a member of Congress, has been sleeping on the Capitol steps since Friday night to protest the lapse of the eviction moratorium.

“It’s an eviction emergency. Our people need an eviction moratorium. Now,” Bush tweeted Monday morning.


The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), of which Bush is a member, also issued a statement on Monday calling on the Biden administration to extend the eviction moratorium.

CBC Chairwoman Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) said in a statement that the expired moratorium “means that thousands of Black families and children could lose the roof over their heads at a time when the deadly pandemic is surging once again.”

“We also call upon the Treasury Department to work with Congress to ensure that funds already transferred to states and communities can be more effectively distributed to renters and landlords,” Beatty said.

Tags eviction Eviction moratorium Janet Yellen Joe Biden Joyce Beatty Nancy Pelosi rental aid
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