Progressives celebrate after Biden administration extends eviction moratorium

The CDC issued a revised eviction moratorium on Tuesday

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published August 3, 2021 6:39PM (EDT)

Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Cori Bush (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Cori Bush (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

The CDC released a revised eviction moratorium on Tuesday, triggering a round of celebratory praise from progressive House Democrats who spent recent days trying to extend federal protections for renters devasted by the coronavirus pandemic.

"This order will expire on October 3, 2021 and applies in United States counties experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission levels of SARS-CoV-2," the CDC said of its new guidance. According to CNN, the order accounts for 80% of counties throughout the nation. Announcing the planned extension on Tuesday, President Biden said the targeted eviction moratorium is needed in light of the recent surge in new coronavirus cases.

A prior ban on eviction expired last weekend after a major push from progressive House Democrats like Reps. Cori Bush, D-MO., Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. 

organized a campout on the Capitol steps, where she slept overnight to bring the issue to light. 

"The House is at recess. People are on vacations. How are we on vacation when we have millions of people who could start to be evicted tonight?" Bush said in a CNN interview. "There are people already receiving and have received pay or vacate notices that will have them out on tomorrow. People are already in a position where they need help, our most vulnerable, our most marginalized, those who are in need." 

The eviction freeze was originally put in place last September by the CDC, which enacted it as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID. This June, the Supreme Court upheld that freeze, though it ruled that the agency could not renew it ahead of its deadline. Democrats claimed up until this point that the Biden administration could not unilaterally reinstate the moratorium, an argument that critics demurred as specious. Last Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would have preferred to renew the ban, but "unfortunately the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available."

Gene Sperling, Biden's COVID economic advisor, echoed Psaki on Monday, claiming that the White House could not put together even a slimmed-down version of another eviction moratorium.  

"To date," he said, "the CDC director and her team have been unable to find legal authority, even for a more targeted eviction moratorium that would focus just on counties with higher rates of COVID spread."

On Tuesday, Psaki said in a presser that the White House was examining various legal pathways to pull together a "partial, limited short-term extension" on the eviction freeze, but Biden himself that is unlikely. "The bulk of the constitutional scholars say it's not likely to pass constitutional muster," the president said on Tuesday while announcing the plan. 

Still, Bush's efforts appear to have been largely successful in light of today's announcement, earning her praise from a number of fellow progressives and mainstream Democrats.

"You get what you organize for," fellow Squad member Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., tweeted.  "Thank you @CoriBush for leading on this."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., joined the chorus on Tuesday, congratulating both Bush and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., for successfully moving the Biden administration on the issue. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also shared a Bush's victory lap statement. 

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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Biden Brief Cdc Cori Bush Covid Eviction House Democrats Moratorium Progressives