Progressives Are Issuing Warning About Eviction Moratorium

Even as progressive lawmakers warned of the "death and suffering" that will likely result from millions of people losing their homes as the more dangerous Delta variant drives a resurgent Covid-19 pandemic, House Democrats gave up on enacting legislation to extend the federal eviction moratorium on Friday afternoon after failing to secure enough votes for passage.

A planned Friday House floor vote on a measure presented Thursday by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) that would prolong the CDC eviction ban—which has been in force since September and ends on Saturday—will not take place because, as one aide put it, "we don't have the votes."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her leadership team were scrambling to win enough support for the bill "despite pushback from moderates and housing industry organizations" as the moratorium's deadline loomed on Friday.

Waters and Pelosi differed on whether lawmakers would vote on the bill; the former, along with progressives, desired a vote, while the latter was concerned about the ramifications of a "no" vote being made public.

President Joe Biden encouraged Congress to act "immediately" to extend the ban before it expires and legislators leave for the summer break.

Pelosi, on the other hand, proposed that Biden direct the CDC to extend the eviction prohibition long enough for states and municipalities to disburse the $47 billion in federal rental aid that has yet to reach renters and landlords.

Right-wing Justice Brett Kavanaugh stated in a June Supreme Court judgment that "clear and specific congressional permission (through new legislation) would be necessary" for another extension, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

Progressive Democratic legislators, who have been pressing for a moratorium extension for months, reiterated their pleas on Friday to keep the life-saving policy in place. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo. ), who previously lived in her vehicle with her two children, wrote to her House colleagues that "we cannot in good faith depart for August vacation until the federal eviction moratorium has been extended."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), speaking with Bush outside the U.S. Capitol on Friday evening, said in a video she posted on Instagram that "we're pretty pissed off" because "Congress decided to leave town" while "an estimated seven million Americans" could face eviction if the moratorium expires.

An all-but-certainly fatal reality looms amid the back-and-forth between the administration and Congress: According to recent poll data from the United States Census Bureau, 4.2 million people throughout the country believe they may be evicted or foreclosed on in the near future. Some of them are on the verge of being homeless.

This is because the more transmissible, more potent Delta form of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 has become the prevalent strain in the US, and infections and hospitalizations are on the rise despite vaccination skepticism. Unhoused individuals are up to 50% more likely than the general population to die from Covid-19, according to research released in March by epidemiologists at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"If Congress does not act immediately, the eviction crisis' consequences will surely set us back as the Covid-19 epidemic continues to ravage our communities, adding needlessly to more death and damage," Bush said in her letter.