WASHINGTON — Democrats in Congress and the White House on Monday pointed fingers and implored others to act to reinstate the eviction moratorium, as the CDC continued to insist it lacks the power to act unilaterally.
The moratorium, which was enacted in the early days of the pandemic expired, on Saturday. The White House said a recent Supreme Court decision means the administration lacks the authority to institute another extension and called on Congress to act. But Congress couldn't muster the votes on Friday, even in the Demcoratic-controlled House, to pass a bill.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday afternoon said in a statement that Biden urged the CDC on Sunday to consider extending the eviction for another month, but only targeted to counties with high case rates of Covid.
Shortly after the statement was released, Gene Sperling, who is overseeing the White House's rollout of Covid emergency funds, told reporters that the CDC was "unable to find the legal authority" for a targeted eviction moratorium.
The White House and Democratic leaders in Congress have tried to shift the focus to the unspent funds intended to help people pay their rent.
As progressives in the House staged public demonstrations against their own colleagues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen would brief Democratic members of the House this week on the emergency funds designed to assist tenants with rent payments.
Yellen will give a presentation to House Democrats on Tuesday to explain how her agency has distributed the $46.5 billion in aid allocated by Congress, one of the main purposes for extending the moratorium, Pelosi said in a letter to her caucus Monday.
Pelosi urged members to look into their state's and localities' distribution of the funds and "work in your district to help get the money to flow."
House Democrats called on the Biden administration to extend the federal eviction moratorium over the weekend after lawmakers failed to extend it themselves. But the White House has repeatedly said Biden lacks the authority to issue another extension after a recent Supreme Court decision.
Sperling said that the Supreme Court presented a "difficult obstacle" to the CDC and the White House. The Court declined to end the federal ban on evictions at the end of June, but in the concurrence Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that decision was made in part because the ban was expiring in July and said that any further extension would require congressional action.
Sperling said that Biden was "double, triple, and quadruple checking" his legal authority to extend the eviction ban.
Over the weekend, Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., spoke out against the expiration of the eviction moratorium outside the Capitol. Bush, who faced eviction herself and lived in her car with her two children before her career in politics, is on her fourth day and third night of sleeping on the Capitol steps to protest the inaction.
"I know what that feels like. And this is not, this should not be who we are, it should not be what lawmakers allow, we should be doing everything that we can to make sure we end human suffering, not perpetuate it," she told NBC News on Monday.
Later Monday, Bush tweeted that she met with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss the eviction moratorium.
"I needed her to look me in my eyes and I wanted to look in hers when I asked for help to prevent our people from being evicted," Bush said, reiterating her calls for a federal moratorium extension.
The House is out for a seven-week recess, but is still on a 24-hour callback notice in anticipation of the long-awaited infrastructure bill's passing in the Senate.