The federal eviction moratorium expires on Saturday and Democrats in Congress are pushing a last-minute effort to extend the moratorium through the end of the year.
The effort comes after President Joe Biden called on Congress on Thursday to take action.
“We have to get this done,” said Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a co-sponsor of the legislation to extend the moratorium. “When Americans are facing a crisis, when Americans are in trouble, it’s our job to help them.”
But the proposal is facing criticism from Republicans.
“This issue could and should have been resolved weeks ago,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.
Critics argue the bill does not address the Supreme Court signaling that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can no longer step in to extend the federal moratorium.
“The reason this bill simply extends the unlawful order is because it was written last night at the last minute despite the White House and Congressional Democrats’ full knowledge for over a month that this moratorium would lapse,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.
“We can blame each other for it, but the fact of the matter is we have an emergency in this country and the emergency is are we going to sit back and say let the evictions take place. It’s too bad they didn’t work fast enough,” said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
Housing experts say the situation is dire for millions of renters.
“Unfortunately, this is going to most directly affect communities of color, the most vulnerable, and working families,” said Jeff Le, a public policy strategist and partner at the Truman National Security Project.
Le said another big concern is that less than seven percent of the roughly $47 billion allocated for rental assistance has actually been given out to those who need it, and time is running out.
“Some of that federal money expires and turns into a pumpkin and this is going to be a time where you’re going to see massive groups of people potentially get evicted,” said Le. “Unless there is a way to get more of the rental assistance money that’s been given from Congress to states and localities, to get the money to not just renters but mom and pops, mom and pop landlords, about 22 million in the country, we’re going to see a tsunami of evictions.”
Lawmakers behind the push to extend the eviction ban said that extra time can help renters and landlords access that rental assistance aid.
“No one planned COVID but our response as leaders is everything,” said Demings about the proposal.
Even if the extension passes in the House, it’s unlikely to pass in the Senate before the July 31 deadline.
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