Updated Jul 30, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Finger pointing starts after House fails to extend federal eviction ban

Bush and Pelosi

From right to left, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks to Democratic Reps. Ted Lieu, Cori Bush, Mary Gay Scanlon and Lucy McBath on July 21 in Washingotn. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Three U.S. agencies have extended federal foreclosure-related eviction moratoria in an effort to protect renters after the House failed to pass legislation that would extend the ban.

Driving the news: House Democratic leaders did not secure enough votes to pass the legislation on Friday, adjourning the chamber for a six-week recess the day before the ban is set to expire. As many as 15 million people could face evictions, per estimates from the Aspen Institute.

State of play: Democrats were split on how far ahead the ban should be extended, with progressive members accusing more moderate colleagues of prioritizing vacation over evictees.

  • Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), who has been evicted three times in the past, sent a letter to her colleagues on Friday begging for more empathy. 
    • "I know firsthand the trauma and devastation that comes with the violence of being evicted, and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to prevent this trauma from being inflicted on our neighbors and communities," Bush wrote.
    • On Friday evening, Bush said she would be spending the night outside the U.S. Capitol building in an attempt to get her House colleagues to reconsider their departure.
  • Some lawmakers also criticized the Biden administration for waiting until the last minute to request action.
    • President Biden caught them by surprise on Thursday when he urged Congress to extend the ban, according to the Hill.
    • He said his administration would no longer have the authority to unilaterally make the extension after the Supreme Court ruled that it can't be extended beyond July 31 without congressional approval.
  • "That left House Democratic leaders scrambling to round up enough votes in their own caucus, given the widespread opposition from Republicans to extending the moratorium again," the Hill writes.
    • Worth noting: Even if House Democrats managed to pass the bill, Senate Republicans would've likely killed it.

What they're saying: "Really, we only learned about this yesterday. Not really enough time to socialize it within our caucus to build ... the consensus necessary," Pelosi told reporters on Friday. "We've had beautiful conversations with our members ... when it comes, though, to the technicalities of legislation, we just need more time."

  • "There were obviously some concerns about landlords getting payments, as well as the renters," said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

What's happening now: After the House adjourned, the White House attempted to mitigate the situation.

  • The Agriculture Department, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs and the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced extensions on their own moratoria.
  • The agencies urged owners and operators of rental housing to access Emergency Rental Assistance resources to avoid evicting a tenant for failure to pay rent.
  • "Helping our fellow Americans, including our Veterans, keep their homes will go a long way in making sure that they have one less thing to worry about as they rebuild their lives coming out of this crisis and try to keep their loved ones safe," the agencies said in a statement.

Editor's story: This story has been updated to note Bush will be spending the night outside the U.S. Capitol.

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