Democratic lawmakerson Friday denounced the Supreme Court's decision that blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from allowing renters to stay in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the decision “arbitrary and cruel” in a statement Friday.
“The Court’s decision to block the new CDC eviction moratorium is immoral, putting families at risk of being put on the streets, and it is a serious public health threat, as the delta variant continues,” she said.
In an unsigned opinion, six justices sided with a group representing landlords, who had argued that the CDC had no authority to impose such a restriction on its own.
"It would be one thing if Congress had specifically authorized the action that the CDC has taken. But that has not happened," the court wrote. "Instead, the CDC has imposed a nationwide moratorium on evictions in reliance on a decades-old statute that authorizes it to implement measures like fumigation and pest extermination."
The current moratorium, which was imposed in early August, had been due to expire in early October.
Pelosi said that lawmakers will focus on ensuring that the billions in emergency rental assistance passed by Congress make it to needy families.
“Time is of the essence,” she said. “As we all agree, eviction is a horror that no family should ever have to experience: cribs and personal belongings on the street, children in fear and distress and parents struggling to find basic shelter.”
Several progressive Democrats — Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Cori Bush of Missouri, Jimmy Gomez of California and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — along with over 60 other House colleagues wrote a letter to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urging them to pass legislation to extend the federal eviction moratorium for the duration of the pandemic.
“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,” the lawmakers wrote.
A half-dozen states have eviction moratoriums that are not affected by the Supreme Court's action — California, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Washington. The District of Columbia also has a local moratorium.
The lawmakers noted in their letter that only 11 percent of the $46 billion in emergency rental assistance has been disbursed.
“If we do not act, the end of the eviction moratorium will undoubtedly lead to the increased spread of COVID-19, more deaths, disability, and trauma. We implore you to act with the urgency this moment demand,” the lawmakers wrote.