Far-left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) admitted during a CNN interview on Sunday that Democrats could not in good faith blame the Republican Party for failing to extend the eviction moratorium because Democrats control the entire federal government.
“So, you have been warning that this eviction deadline was coming for weeks,” CNN anchor Jake Tapper said. “Democrats control the House. You guys control the Senate. You guys control the White House. Nothing aggressive was done by leadership until just a couple days ago.”
“Who’s to blame here?” Tapper asked.
“First of all, you are absolutely correct, in that the House and House leadership had the opportunity to vote to extend the moratorium. And there were many and there was, frankly, a handful of conservative Democrats in the House that threatened to get on planes rather than hold this vote,” she responded. “And we have to really just call a spade a spade. We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have a majority.”
“Now, there is something to be said for the fact that this court order came down on the White House a month ago, and the White House waited until the day before the House adjourned to release a statement asking on Congress to extend the moratorium,” AOC continued. “This came after weeks. I sit on the Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over housing. We had the housing secretary there, asking about the administration stance. We asked the Biden administration about their stance. And they were not being really forthright about that advocacy and that request until the day before the House adjourned.”
The House had the opportunity to extend the eviction moratorium. But, there were a handful of conservative Democrats who chose to leave rather than keep families in their homes.
We cannot in good faith blame Republicans when House Democrats have a majority. pic.twitter.com/VBvOgZyIDY
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@RepAOC) August 1, 2021
TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED VIA CNN:
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I’m Jake Tapper.
A rally at the Capitol overnight, progressive lawmakers demanding that the House come back in session, some even spending the whole night on the steps in solidarity with those who may soon find themselves without a roof over their heads, after the federal ban on rental evictions expired at midnight without a vote to extend it.
Congress has passed, already, billions of dollars to help renters during the pandemic, but only a sliver of that money has actually been distributed, leaving both tenants and also some landlords in desperate straits.
Joining us live now to discuss, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who was at the rally last night.
Good to see you in person.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Of course.
So, you have been warning that this eviction deadline was coming for weeks.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Mm-hmm. Yes.
TAPPER: Democrats control the House. You guys control the Senate. You guys control the White House. Nothing aggressive was done by leadership until just a couple days ago.
Who’s to blame here?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think there’s a couple of issues here.
First of all, you are absolutely correct, in that the House and House leadership had the opportunity to vote to extend the moratorium. And there were many and there was, frankly, a handful of conservative Democrats in the House that threatened to get on planes rather than hold this vote.
And we have to really just call a spade a spade. We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have a majority.
Now, there is something to be said for the fact that this court order came down on the White House a month ago, and the White House waited until the day before the House adjourned to release a statement asking on Congress to extend the moratorium.
This came after weeks. I sit on the Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over housing. We had the housing secretary there, asking about the administration’s stance. We asked the Biden administration about their stance. And they were not being really forthright about that advocacy and that request until the day before the House adjourned.
And so the House was put into a — I believe, a needlessly difficult situation. And it’s not just me saying that. Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters has made that very clear as well.
And so there’s a couple of contributing factors here. We have governors who are also not getting this emergency rental assistance out in time, which is forcing this extension, what we would like, an extension of the moratorium.
The fact of the matter is, is that the problem is here. The House should reconvene and call this vote and extend the moratorium. There’s about 11 million people that are behind on their rent, at risk of eviction. That’s one out of every six renters in the United States.
TAPPER: Congress is out of town for the next seven weeks. Speaker Pelosi made it clear in a letter to Democrats last night she’s not calling the House back. The Senate’s here, because they have got the infrastructure bill. What’s your — and you heard Manchin say that he thinks that the moratorium should be extended, so that these tens of billions of dollars can get out the door? What’s your response?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, listen, the House adjourned technically for seven weeks, but I want to be very clear that, due to the ongoing negotiations with the bipartisan infrastructure bill, we were given very specific instructions that we are set to adjourn for seven weeks, but every member of the House of Representatives is currently on a 24-hour callback notice, in anticipation of that bipartisan infrastructure bill.
So, we all have left town with plans to come back within 24 hours if necessary. And I believe that the expiration of the eviction moratorium and having 11 million Americans, one out of every six renters, at risk of being kicked out of their homes, is worth coming back and triggering that 24-hour notice.
We cannot leave town without doing our job.
TAPPER: Can you explain to the American people why it is that these tens of billions of dollars that Congress has already passed to help renters — and, also, we shouldn’t depict — and you’re not — but landlords, some of them are small business people. They need the money, too, so they can survive.
TAPPER: These are not all just Jared Kushner slumlord types, right?
And so this money is there. What’s the holdup? Why can’t it get out the door?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, this money was handed over by Congress and the federal government to states and local municipalities to dole out.
And what that means, then, is that each individual governor is responsible for establishing these programs. I think that, in some states, governors and state administrations might be slow-walking this process to get it out, in other states, the administrative burden of setting it up.
But there are states and municipalities that have been getting it right. And we’re at a point where, frankly, those state governments need to get it together. But we cannot kick people out of their homes when our end of the bargain has not been fulfilled.
Out of the $46 billion that has been allocated, only $3 billion has gone out to help renters and small mom-and-pop landlords.
TAPPER: No, it’s crazy.
You just heard Joe Manchin a few moments ago talk about the reconciliation bill. That’s the bigger budget package, $3.5 trillion. He said he can’t give any guarantee that it would pass the Senate. What was your response to that?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, listen, this deal — these deals on infrastructure that have gone out are not just bipartisan, but they are also bicameral.
And it was very — it was made very clear…
TAPPER: That means House and Senate.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, that means House and Senate.
And so it was made very clear at the beginning of this process that this bipartisan deal, if it even survives the Senate, the only chance that it has at passing the House is if the House passes the Senate bill and if the Senate passes the House bill, which is largely in reconciliation.
And so we can’t just have one body driving the entire legislative agenda for the country, and, frankly, 20 senators within that one body. And so we need a reconciliation bill if this bipartisan bill is going to get — if we want this bipartisan bill to pass.
TAPPER: Now, I know the infrastructure deal that they’re talking about — and Manchin said they’re going to introduce it today, they’re going to bring out the language — is obviously a lot smaller than you wanted, a lot smaller than a lot of your fellow progressives wanted.
It still does include things that you like, including funding for electric vehicle charging stations, public transit, clean water systems, broadband, more.
When it comes before the House, as it looks like will happen, will you vote for it?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: It has to — we have to hold onto the — we have to hold onto that bargain.
If there is not a reconciliation bill in the House, and if the Senate does not pass the reconciliation bill, we will uphold our end of the bargain and not pass the bipartisan bill until we get all of these investments in.
And I want to be clear that the investments in the bipartisan bill are not all candy land. There are some of these — quote, unquote — “pay- fors” that are very alarming that we need to see the language on. For example, some of the language around privatizing public infrastructure, putting toll roads, leasing public infrastructure to private entities, are very concerning and should be concerning to every American.
So, we really need to see that language and see what’s put in there until it reaches — when it reaches the House. Bipartisan doesn’t always mean that it’s in the interests of the public good, frankly. Sometimes, there’s a lot of corporate lobbyist giveaways in some of these bills.
So, when it comes to the infrastructure package, you disagree with your fellow Democrat Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, who told Politico — quote — “Strike while the iron is hot. If you get a deal, and if it’s significant money, don’t let it sit. It does not age well.”
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, we have a deal. And the deal is reconciliation for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
TAPPER: OK. Yes, you have made your point.
You have called out Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema for saying she does not support the budget reconciliation package, $3.5 trillion, for all sorts of priorities.
You wrote — quote — “Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on child care, climate action, and infrastructure, while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin.”
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, I mean, that’s the thing.
This is a deal. And we have a tight margin in the Senate. I respect that we have to get Senator Sinema and Manchin’s vote on reconciliation. They should also respect that there’s a very tight House margin, and that we have to be able to uphold our end of the bargain as well. And House progressives are also part of that majority.
TAPPER: How many House progressives do you think are with you on this?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: I believe, a very large amount of the Progressive Caucus. The total amount is about 90.
I am not the whip of the Progressive Caucus. But what I can tell you is that it’s certainly more than three. And it is in the double digits, absolutely.
TAPPER: Enough to prevent it from passing.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: More than enough.
TAPPER: President Biden and other administration officials have signaled that they believe that Democrats can out-organize Republicans, even though Republicans are passing all these measures that, generally speaking, make it more difficult to vote.
And, generally speaking, a lot of the impetus for this is the big lie that the election was stolen. You’re an organizer, former organizer. Is that a realistic strategy, what President Biden is saying, that Democrats can out-organize Republicans on this?
I appreciate the White House’s optimism, but I believe that it verges on naivete, because what we have here, first of all, is, we — it already took unprecedented historic organizing to overcome the voter suppression efforts in 2020. And we barely squeaked through on the majorities and the White House election that we have.
But, beyond that, even if we are successful in — quote, unquote — “out-organizing voter suppression,” which is a ridiculous premise on its face, Republicans are already laying the groundwork in installing state level attorney generals and beyond to overturn the results of any state election that they, frankly, do not like in states where they have taken power.
And so, even if you are successful in out-organizing, they won’t even — they’re laying the groundwork to not even certify the results of the election. They’re holding essentially dress rehearsals in states like Arizona in order to do that.
And I think we should be extremely alarmed. And it will — we are setting it up to happen unless we pass very strong voter provisions against gerrymandering, voter protection rights, not just [in] H.R.4, but we need the retroactive provisions in H.R.1.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, thank you so much for being here.
Good to see you.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Of course. Thank you. Absolutely.