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Pelosi turns tables on White House, urges eviction ban extension

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team on Sunday urged President Joe Biden to immediately renew and extend the eviction moratorium until Oct. 18 after House Democrats failed to marshal the votes to prevent its lapse this weekend.

Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) issued a joint statement Sunday night putting the ball back in the Biden administration’s court, after the White House on Thursday said it could not extend the eviction ban and urged Congress to do it.

“It is clear that the Senate is not able to [extend the ban], and any legislation in the House, therefore, will not be sufficient,” the senior Democrats said. “Action is needed, and it must come from the administration.”

The statement from House leadership marked the latest escalation of tensions between congressional Democrats and the Biden administration over the fate of the eviction moratorium, which ended Saturday after being first implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September.

Progressive lawmakers including Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) also urged Biden to maintain the ban in a letter this weekend and staged a protest at the Capitol.

The White House announced Thursday that it would let the ban lapse because the Supreme Court indicated in late June that legislation would be necessary to extend it a fifth time.

Biden’s call for Congress to step in set off a two-day scramble in the House. More than a dozen House Democrats opposed a plan to extend the moratorium, which was challenged by landlords who warned it cost them billions of dollars each month.

Pelosi and her team said Sunday night that as the CDC doubles down on mask-wearing and vaccination efforts, “science and reason demand that they must also extend the moratorium in light of the Delta variant.”

“Doing so is a moral imperative to keep people from being put out on the street which also contributes to the public health emergency,” they said.

The senior Democrats requested that the Treasury Department shed light on how state and local governments could more efficiently deliver the $46.5 billion in rental assistance Congress has authorized since December. As of the end of June, only 6.5 percent of the funds had been disbursed.

The lapse of the moratorium this weekend meant millions of tenants around the country faced the risk of losing their homes. About 7.4 million adult tenants reported they were behind on rent in the latest U.S. Census Bureau survey, which was taken during the last week of June and the first week of July. About 3.6 million tenant households said they were “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to face eviction over the next two months.

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