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House Democrats call for action to extend eviction moratorium

Lawmakers contend that the virus is ‘still a threat’ and that Americans should be allowed to stay in their homes

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Photo (c) JJ Gouin - Getty Images
Hours after the federal eviction moratorium expired on Saturday, top House Democrats urged the Biden administration to take immediate action in extending it. 

Given the threat of the Delta variant, top House Democrats believe an extension allowing financially strapped Americans to remain in their homes is the best course of action. 

“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.

With Delta driving a rise in COVID-19 case numbers nationwide, the group said the eviction freeze should be extended through at least October 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.”

Pushing for an extension

Three days before the scheduled end of the eviction ban, President Biden called on Congress to extend the order “without delay” given the circumstances. 

"Given the recent spread of the Delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Thursday.

"In light of the Supreme Court's ruling, the President calls on Congress to extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay.”

The eviction moratorium ultimately expired at midnight on Saturday after the House left for recess two days earlier without having previously reached any sort of deal on an extension. 

Virus ‘still a threat’

Top House Democrats argued over the weekend that it wouldn’t be “sufficient” to extend the measure in the House because the Senate wouldn’t have the ability to pass 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.

The group of Democratic lawmakers urged the Treasury Department 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.

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