Progressive members of Congress pen letter urging Biden, CDC chief to act on expiring eviction ban

(WASHINGTON) — In a new letter to President Joe Biden and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, progressive members of Congress are calling for the CDC to “leverage every authority available to extend the eviction moratorium” after the House failed to take action Friday to extend the eviction ban set to expire Saturday at midnight.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., along with Reps. Cori Bush, D-Mo., Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., signed on to the letter, seen first by ABC News, urging the administration, which has said its hands are tied by a June Supreme Court ruling, to act.

In June, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow the eviction ban to continue through the end of July but signaled in its ruling that it would block any further extensions unless there was “clear and specific congressional authorization.”

In a statement Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would have supported the CDC extending the ban, but “the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available,” and called on Congress to take action.

That led to criticism by some progressive members of Congress that the call to action for addressing a known problem came too late, just as Congress was about to recess.

House Democrats launched a last-minute effort to pass legislation that would keep the protections in place but failed to pass it before gaveling out of session for recess Friday evening.

In their letter Saturday, the lawmakers said they will continue to work legislatively to address the expiring moratorium, as well as to get billions in previously approved funding out to help renters and landlords — a process that has gotten off to a slow start.

“In the meantime, we are continuing to work diligently to push for legislative action and ensure that states and localities in our districts are disbursing the billions in critical emergency rental assistance to renters and property owners that Congress passed most recently as part of the American Rescue Plan,” the lawmakers write.

“Extending the eviction moratorium is a matter of life and death for the communities we represent. The eviction moratorium expires tonight at midnight. We implore you to act with the urgency this moment demands,” they add.

Bush, who previously struggled with homelessness, took her protest to Capitol Hill Friday night, sleeping on the steps of the Capitol after Congress failed to act.

“This is personal for me. I lived in a car! I lived out of a car with two babies and my partner. I know what that’s like. And I will not sit by and allow it to happen to other people because it happened to me. I won’t,” Bush told ABC News in an interview Saturday.

“I will show up and I will speak up, not only me — Congresswoman Ayanna Presley was out here with us last night. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was out here with us last night. We are making sure that people know this is not OK and we won’t sit by,” she added.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren took to the Senate Floor Saturday to urge action as well, and later joined Bush outside the Capitol.

“Look, I agree that the eviction moratorium is not a long-term solution. But let me be very clear, it is the right, short-term action is how we keep families safely in their homes while states deliver emergency aid,” Warren said.

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