House progressives are urgently calling on Democratic congressional leaders to pass legislation to extend the federal eviction moratorium after the Supreme Court ended an extension late Thursday night.
“As your fellow colleagues, we implore you to act with the highest levels of urgency to advance a permanent legislative solution in a must pass legislative vehicle in order to extend the life-saving federal eviction moratorium for the duration of the deadly global health crisis. We must continue to curb the spread of the Delta variant using every legislative tool at our disposal in Congress,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter sent Friday, exclusively obtained by ABC News.
The letter was led by Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jimmy Gomez, and Cori Bush. More than 60 lawmakers have signed on to the letter, ABC News is told.
In an eight-page ruling, the Supreme Court determined that Congress must extend the federal eviction moratorium unilaterally.
“Congress was on notice that a further extension would almost surely require new legislation, yet it failed to act in the several weeks leading up to the moratorium’s expiration,” the court wrote in an unsigned, eight-page opinion.
“If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, Congress must specifically authorize it,” the court said.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesRep. Sheila Jackson Lee, right, Rep. Cori Bush, center and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson speak at a rally against the end of the eviction moratorium at the U.S. Capitol, Aug. 3, 2021, in Washington, DC.
“It is indisputable that the public has a strong interest in combating the spread of the COVID–19 Delta variant. But our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends,” the court writes. “It is up to Congress, not the CDC, to decide whether the public interest merits further action here.”
Bush, who was formerly homeless, posted up on the Capitol steps to protest the moratorium ending earlier in August.
2021.08.27 Pressley Eviction Moratorium Extension Letter FINAL by ABC News Politics on Scribd
The moratorium, essentially a nationwide ban on evictions, was put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last September. In June, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow the eviction ban to continue through the end of July but signaled in its ruling that it would block any further extensions unless there was “clear and specific congressional authorization.”
Amid public outcry, House Democratic leadership was looking to possibly take legislative action before its summer recess, but those efforts did not take place.
The CDC ended up passing another extension in early August, largely due to the public outcry and protests led by Bush.
In a statement Friday, Pelosi did not indicate that the House would return from its recess to pass legislation. She called on state and local governments to disperse rental assistance immediately.
“Earlier this month, thanks to the leadership of President Biden and Congressional Democrats, the imminent fear of eviction and being put out on the street was lifted for countless families across America with the issuing of a new CDC eviction moratorium. Last night, the Supreme Court immorally ripped away that relief in a ruling that is arbitrary and cruel,” she said in a statement.
“Congressional Democrats have not and will not ever accept a situation of mass evictions. We will continue our work to ensure that families suffering hardship during the pandemic can have the safety of home, as we also work with communities to ensure the immediate disbursement by states and localities of the over $45 billion allocated by Congress for rental assistance,” she added.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also released a statement late Thursday lamenting the Supreme Court’s decision.
“The Biden Administration is disappointed that the Supreme Court has blocked the most recent CDC eviction moratorium while confirmed cases of the Delta variant are significant across the country. As a result of this ruling, families will face the painful impact of evictions, and communities across the country will face greater risk of exposure to COVID-19,” Psaki said.
“In light of the Supreme Court ruling and the continued risk of COVID-19 transmission, President Biden is once again calling on all entities that can prevent evictions – from cities and states to local courts, landlords, Cabinet Agencies – to urgently act to prevent evictions,” she said.
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