Democrats scramble to pass extension to eviction moratorium at the last minute
Capitol Hill is scrambling Friday to put together a deal to extend the eviction moratorium for renters from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before it expires Saturday night.
The Supreme Court last month allowed the CDC order to stay in place until July 31, but said congressional action would be needed to extend it past that date. President Joe Biden called on Congress on Thursday to extend the moratorium to December 31, but both chambers have yet to move through the legislative process to extend the directive and the moratorium appears on track to expire barring some sort of last minute action.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and other Democratic leaders were seen huddled together on the floor of the House on Thursday trying to see if they could reach an agreement for a deal.
“I am now writing to you with a plea to help those in need receive what was intended for them,” Pelosi wrote in a letter Thursday evening urging Democrats to extend the moratorium until the end of the year. “We must extend the eviction moratorium to provide more time for the funds to be disbursed. I make this plea, invoking the Gospel of Matthew, which reminds us of our responsibility: to provide shelter to those in need.”
Although lawmakers did not vote on Thursday, Pelosi told reporters Friday morning “we will see” when asked if she thought a vote could happen Friday. The House is just hours away from the start of its scheduled seven-week August recess, though congressional leader can delay or cancel that recess and bring the chamber back into session.
Even if the extension passes the House, it’s unlikely the Senate would be able to quickly pass the bill any time soon. The upper chamber has tied up the floor for the foreseeable future as it tries to advance a bipartisan infrastructure bill, and any quick passage would require unanimous consent from all 100 senators. The Senate is also slated to start its recess at the end of next week, though that too could change is leadership changes the schedule.
Put in place by the CDC last fall to help in stopping the spread of Covid-19, the order banned the eviction of renters for nonpayment of rent. The end of the moratorium could affect the estimated 11.4 million adult renters are behind on rent, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Pelosi has said that she believes that the moratorium should be extended to the end of the year, and not anything sooner.
Republicans have pushed back that Democrats are trying to get this done too last minute.
“The CDC order was to expire at the end of this month. They knew that in February. Democrats had the opportunity to change that. They didn’t,” GOP Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina said Friday. “We’ve heard the priority. We’ve heard the emergency. But this is not an emergency. On this day it’s a tragedy that it’s this level of incompetency that we didn’t take action in February, March, April, May, June. Even July.”
But Democrats have pressed that regardless of how down to the wire it is, this extension cannot be ignored.
“We have got to put a pause on this for the sake of public health,” Democratic Rep. Deborah Ross of North Carolina said Friday. “For the sake of people’s economic well-being, and to give people time to make this transition. I too wish that we had planned for this more in advance, but I can say that people are making some progress. We need to help people right now.”
Senior Democratic officials in both chambers told CNN on Thursday that they were trying to get a deal done, but the path forward still remains unclear.
A senior House Democratic aide told CNN, “we are talking to our members; we are going to whip an extension through 12/31 and see if there are the votes to pass it. You should ask Senators their thoughts on if they are going to pass something!”
A Senate Democratic aide told CNN, “Democrats are preparing legislation to do so,” adding that the Senate will be able to meet the looming deadline “if Republicans don’t block” it.
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