By Ryan Steal
The Biden administration approved a new, more limited eviction moratorium on Tuesday, just days after a national eviction ban expired.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, like the prior directive, placed a two-month embargo on Tuesday.
The new eviction prohibition applies to areas of the United States where the coronavirus is spreading “substantially” and “highly,” according to the CDC.
“Without this Order, evictions in these [higher transmission] areas would likely exacerbate the increase in cases,” the order reads, citing the rise of the delta variant.
The penalties are severe, but it’s unclear where the CDC obtained the power to execute a “law” that Congress didn’t pass.
“With such high disease rates right now,” the CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, told NPR’s All Things Considered, “We felt a new, tailored order was needed to make sure that… working Americans who were at risk of eviction could be stably housed during this really tenuous, challenging period of time.”
The federal restriction expired on Saturday night, affecting millions of Americans who faced eviction for being late with their rent payment.
Progressives have been pressuring the Biden administration to extend the eviction moratorium after it expired.
Previously, the administration said it lacked the legal authority to enact such a policy, meaning the new injunction could be challenged in court.
On Monday, Gene Sperling, who oversees the White House’s COVID-19 relief rollout, told reporters that Biden had “quadruple-checked” whether he’d got the legal authority to extend the moratorium unilaterally, but that his hands were ultimately tied by a Supreme Court ruling that prevented the CDC from extending its previous moratorium beyond the end of July. Congress’s last-ditch effort to prolong the ban failed.
Democrats on Capitol Hill chastised Sperling, claiming that the White House should have acted sooner in extending the prior embargo. According to him, the Supreme Court stated that “congressional authorization” was required in this case.
Biden is also asking state and local governments to prolong or pass eviction moratoriums, according to Sperling, who also pointed out that billions of dollars in rental assistance aid are still available.
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