The White House fired back at a claim, made by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could reinstitute its ban on evictions, placed into effect at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After taking a barrage of criticism from House progressives, who even camped out on the steps of the United States Capitol after the House had left for its summer recess, Pelosi, who failed to marshal enough votes to extend the eviction moratorium through legislation last Friday, called on the CDC to extend the ban.
“The CDC has the power to extend the eviction moratorium. As they double down on masks, why wouldn’t they extend the moratorium in light of delta variant?” Pelosi tweeted Sunday.
The CDC has the power to extend the eviction moratorium. As they double down on masks, why wouldn't they extend the moratorium in light of delta variant?
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 1, 2021
“It is a moral imperative to keep people from being put out in the street which also contributes to the public health emergency. The virus is still a threat, the moratorium must be extended and the funds Congress allocated to assist renters and landlords must be spent,” she said.
But the Supreme Court decided in June that the CDC moratorium was unconstitutional and gave Congress until July 31st to remedy the problem through legislation. Pelosi, who heads the House, said she only found out about the pending problem on Friday and was unable to marshal enough votes, even among Democrats, to pass an extension before the summer recess.
The White House, through Press Secretary Jen Psaki, addressed Pelosi’s claims in a statement Monday, telling the Speaker that the CDC has no lawful way of extending the moratorium, and while the White House can assist, it cannot unilaterally order an end to evictions.
CDC officials, Psaki said, “have been unable to find legal authority for a new, targeted eviction moratorium,” and there is unlikely to be an “emergency extension,” per The Hill.
“Our team is redoubling efforts to identify all available legal authorities to provide necessary protections,” Psaki added. “In the meantime, the President will continue to do everything in his power to help renters from eviction.”
It is not clear that President Joe Biden has the authority to extend the CDC’s mandate at all. The Supreme Court was clear that the issue is a legislative one, and a mistake in the calendar is on Pelosi, not Biden.
“Biden asked lawmakers last week to extend the CDC’s ban, two days before it expired on July 31 and nearly a month after the Supreme Court warned that the agency would need congressional support to extend the moratorium again,” The Hill noted. “Even so, House Democrats were unable to rise to Biden’s last-ditch request after roughly 20 moderates objected to a bill to extend the ban, breaking for recess Friday without even taking a vote.”
Progressives, who also seemed to forget about the deadline, held a rally on the steps of the Capitol over the weekend, pledging to remain there until legislation is passed extending the moratorium. Their rationale, though, is not clear; while mask mandates are now again in effect in most major cities, unemployment supplements have been lifted and there appears to be a labor shortage.
The eviction moratorium was placed in effect to help stave off homelessness for those affected by the economic downturn that the Biden administration now says has ended.