The Biden administration has defied a ruling from the Supreme Court and issued a 60-day moratorium on evictions nationwide after Congress failed to extend it before leaving Washington, D.C., on summer recess.
The two-month ban was issued through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it prohibits landlords from acting to evict renters after a nationwide moratorium imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic expired on Saturday.
The CDC issued the moratorium after President Joe Biden suggested during a Tuesday afternoon press conference that a moratorium could soon be issued by his administration. The new ban, which expires on Oct. 3, aims to protect tenants in counties around the country that are experiencing “substantial and high levels of community transmission” of the coronavirus.
Sources told the Associated Press that more than 90 percent of the U.S. population lives in those affected areas.
“The emergence of the delta variant has led to a rapid acceleration of community transmission in the United States, putting more Americans at increased risk, especially if they are unvaccinated,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
“This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads. It is imperative that public health authorities act quickly to mitigate such an increase of evictions, which could increase the likelihood of new spikes in SARS-CoV-2 transmission,” she continued.
“Such mass evictions and the attendant public health consequences would be very difficult to reverse,” she added.
On Monday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the administration had asked the CDC to consider issuing a 30-day moratorium, but noted that the agency had “been unable to find legal authority for a new, targeted eviction moratorium.”
“Our team is redoubling efforts to identify all available legal authorities to provide necessary protections,” she added.
(Video: Fox News)
Majority Democrats in Congress also entertained an 11th-hour bid to extend the moratorium but party leaders were unable to find enough votes to pass one, so they adjourned on Friday, angering the party’s far-left faction.
Instead, party leaders and the White House focused on some $46 billion in rent assistance for landlords passed in December and March, the vast majority of which has yet to be distributed.
“There can be no excuse for any state or locality not accelerating funds to landlords and tenants that have been hurt during this pandemic,” said Biden in a Friday evening statement.
But in fact, a report in late July noted that the bottleneck in funds distribution is at the federal level: The Treasury Department had awarded roughly $3 billion with just days to go, at the time, before the moratorium expired.
Nevertheless, the new moratorium comes with teeth, as well. According to Business Insider congressional correspondent Joseph Zeballos-Roig, landlords who violate the moratorium face a fine up to $250,000 and a year in jail.
The new 60-day CDC eviction moratorium carries steep criminal penalties for individual landlords who break the law:
— Joseph Zeballos-Roig (@josephzeballos) August 3, 2021
But others pointed to a Supreme Court ruling in June to allow the moratorium to remain in place after the CDC attempted to lift it but added that Congress would ultimately have to pass legislation to extend it beyond July 31.
The court ruled that “clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past” that date, the White House noted at the time.
A U.S. district court in Washington, D.C., ruled in June in favor of an Alabama realtor group that the CDC lacked the authority to issue blanket moratoriums.
During her Tuesday evening program, Fox News host Laura Ingraham noted that the Supreme Court “literally put the White House on notice that the president did not have the constitutional authority to extend what was a COVID moratorium on eviction.”
“But, they don’t care,” she continued, speculating that the president “is so terrified” of the Democratic Party’s far-left faction that he caved to their demands to extend the moratorium, which Ingraham believes will be continued indefinitely.
She went on to play a clip of Biden at his Tuesday presser explaining the decision to extend the moratorium.
“The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it’s not likely to pass muster … but there are several key scholars who think that it may and it’s worth the effort,” he added, noting that if nothing else, by the time the case is litigated, the government will have more time to distribute rent relief funds.
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