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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued a new moratorium on evictions that would last until Oct. 3, ending some of the political pressure being placed on President Joe Biden.
The new moratorium could help keep millions in their homes as the coronavirus’ delta variant has spread and states have been slow to release federal rental aid.
President Joe Biden stopped short Tuesday of announcing the new ban on evictions during a press conference at the White House. But he said he asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to see what it could do after its previous ban expired over the weekend. The new 60-day eviction moratorium would cover areas heavily impacted by the coronavirus, where about 90% of the U.S. population lives, according to three people familiar with the plans who insisted on anonymity to discuss the forthcoming announcement.
“My hope is it’s going to be a new moratorium,” Biden told reporters.
The extension could help heal a rift with liberal Democratic lawmakers who were calling on the president to take executive action to keep renters in their homes as the delta variant of the coronavirus spread and a prior moratorium lapsed over the weekend.
The new policy came amid a scramble of actions by the Biden team to reassure Democrats and the country that it could find a way to halt potential evictions. But pressure mounted as key lawmakers said it was not enough.
Top Democratic leaders joined Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who has been camped outside the U.S. Capitol, the freshman congresswoman who once lived in her car as a young mother, leading a passionate protest urging the White House to prevent widespread evictions.
“For 5 days, we’ve been out here, demanding that our government acts to save lives,” she tweeted. “Today, our movement moved mountains.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was a day of “extraordinary relief.”
“The imminent fear of eviction and being put out on the street has been lifted for countless families across America. Help is Here!” Pelosi said in a statement.
Administration officials had previously said a Supreme Court ruling stopped them from setting up a new moratorium without congressional backing, saying states and cities must be more aggressive in releasing nearly $47 billion in relief for renters on the verge of eviction.
The president said he sought input from legal scholars about whether there were options and said the advice was mixed, though some suggested, “It’s worth the effort.” Biden also said he didn’t want to tell the CDC, which has taken the public health lead in responding to the pandemic, what to do.
“I asked the CDC to go back and consider other options that may be available,” he said.
The CDC has identified a legal authority for a new and different moratorium for areas with high and substantial increases in COVID-19 infections.
Biden also insisted there is federal money available — some $47 billion previously approved during the COVID-19 crisis — that needs to get out the door to help renters and landlords.
“The money is there,” Biden said.
The White House has said state and local governments have been slow to push out that federal money and is pressing them to do so swiftly.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen briefed House Democrats Tuesday on the administration’s efforts to prevent widespread housing evictions after a moratorium lapsed, but lawmakers protesting outside the U.S. Capitol said more needs to be done, intensifying pressure on President Joe Biden to act.
Yellen told Democrats on a private call about the work underway to ensure some $47 billion in federal housing aid approved during the COVID-19 crisis makes it to renters and landlords. She provided data so that lawmakers could see how their districts and states are performing with distributing the relief, according to a person on the call.
The White House has said state and local governments have been slow to push out that federal money and is pressing them to do so swiftly after the eviction moratorium expired over the weekend.