WASHINGTON — Democrats in Congress and the White House pointed the finger on Monday and pleaded with others to take action to restore the deportation moratorium as the CDC insisted it lacks the power to act unilaterally.
The moratorium, which was instituted in the early days of the pandemic, expired on Saturday. The White House said a recent Supreme Court decision means the administration does not have the power to institute another extension and called on Congress to act. But Congress failed to rally the votes on Friday, even in the Demcoratic-controlled House, to pass a bill.
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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday afternoon: in a statement Biden urged the CDC on Sunday to consider extending the eviction for another month, but only targeting counties with high cases of Covid.
Shortly after the statement was released, Gene Sperling, who oversees the White House’s rollout of Covid emergency funds, told reporters that the CDC was “unable to find the legal authority” for a targeted moratorium on eviction.
The White House and Democratic leaders in Congress have tried to shift 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 this week brief Democratic House members about emergency funds designed to help tenants with rent payments.
Yellen will give a presentation to House Democrats on Tuesday to explain how her agency distributed the $46.5 billion in aid allocated by Congress, one of the key targets for extending the moratorium, Pelosi said in a statement. a letter to her caucus Monday.
Pelosi urged members to examine the distribution of the funds in their state and municipalities and “work in your district to keep the money flowing.”
House Democrats appeal to Biden administration to extend the federal moratorium on eviction over the weekend after lawmakers failed to expand it themselves. But the White House has repeatedly said that Biden does not have the authority to issue another extension following a recent Supreme Court decision.
Sperling said the Supreme Court posed a “difficult obstacle” for the CDC and the White House. The Court refused to lift the federal ban on evictions at the end of June, but in agreement Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote: that decision was made in part because the ban expired in July and said any further extension would require action from Congress.
Sperling said Biden “double, triple and quadruple checked” his legal authority to extend the eviction ban.
Over the weekend, Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., Opposes Expiry of Deportation Moratorium outside the Capitol. Bush, who was herself evicted and lived in her car with her two children for her political career, is on her fourth day and third night sleeping on the steps of the Capitol to protest inaction.
“I know what that feels like. And this isn’t, this shouldn’t be who we are, it shouldn’t be what lawmakers allow, we should do everything we can to make sure we end human suffering, not to perpetuate it,” she told NBC News on Monday.
Later Monday, Bush tweeted that she was meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss the deportation moratorium.
“I wanted her to look me in the eye and I wanted to look into hers when I asked for help to prevent our people from being evicted,” Bush said, reiterating her call to extend the federal moratorium. .
The House is out on a seven-week recess, but still has a 24-hour callback pending the long-awaited infrastructure bill to pass in the Senate.