Neither President Biden nor House Democrats moved to extend the eviction moratorium over the weekend, and starting Monday as many as six million Americans will be kicked out of their apartments and rental homes right into the teeth of the delta variant. As CNN's Zachary Wolf states, this didn't have to happen.
It's like Democrats in the White House and Congress forgot the date.
Now it's the first of the month and rent -- and back rent -- is suddenly due for millions of Americans who have been shielded from eviction during the pandemic.
Millions of households could face eviction over the next month -- when lawmakers on are on their annual August recess -- and some have predicted a full-blown eviction crisis, just as a surge in Covid cases from the highly contagious Delta variant may be prompting renewed calls for people to stay home and keep their distance.
"We only learned of this yesterday," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Friday evening after the House tried and failed to pass legislation that would extend the federal eviction moratorium. "There was not enough time to socialize it within our caucus as well as to build a consensus necessary," she said, with a promise from her top lieutenant to revisit the issue ASAP. Probably after the break.
Pelosi was likely referring to the fact that the Biden administration only formally asked Congress to pass an extension on Thursday, two days before the program expired.
Some White House officials made a late-stage push last week to reexamine the legal potential for President Joe Biden to extend the moratorium but were told by administration lawyers it wasn't possible, according to people familiar with the deliberations.
You'd never know from the White House's late ask or Pelosi's lame excuse that the Supreme Court was very clear one month ago; either Congress could vote again to authorize the program or evictions could go forward.
Not that a successful House vote would have accomplished anything. An eviction moratorium bill that can't pass the Democratic House would have been laughed out of the evenly divided Senate, where the rules give any one senator the right to slow anything down. There are plenty of Republicans who opposed the temporary hold on evictions when it was first enacted during the Trump administration in September of 2020. Today, there is a gaping divide over whether the government can or should tell private landlords they can't kick tenants out.
But this is a story of Democrats' failure to manage time just as much as it is about Republicans' obstruction.
"I absolutely believe that in this moment, yes, we are failing the American people," Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley told CNN's Ryan Nobles on Saturday evening. "We absolutely should have received word from the White House much earlier than we did. ... There is still time, though, to right this wrong. I do believe that the White House and CDC can act, should act unilaterally. And if we are challenged by the courts, that will still buy these families time."
And it's a clear sign that extraordinary efforts by the government to help Americans through the pandemic are temporary, even if the virus is here to stay.
Expanded unemployment benefits that Democrats were able to sustain without Republican help will expire in September.
A novel new direct payment for parents, meant to pull kids out of poverty, will end in 2022 unless they can find a way to extend it.
What may be most frustrating for Democrats who helped Biden enact his American Rescue Plan to fight Covid this year is they earmarked money to help renters, but most of it has not yet been spent.
That's the real problem though. States are sitting on billions earmarked for rental relief, and most have made no effort to spend a dime of it. Landlords in particular made no effort to go through the process to get the money they are screaming about losing, because they want to evict people and make room for renters who *can* pay. The vast majority of landlords in America are large rental corporations who can afford to take a temporary hit if it means clearing the decks of lower-income renters and bringing in new tenants at higher rents.
Congress knew that the Roberts Court made it clear that they, not Biden, had the authority for the moratorium extension. And all Mitch had to do in order to win again was drag out the clock on everything else, leaving Dems high and dry this weekend.
Not passing a House bill and not forcing a Senate vote is something that's going to haunt the Dems well into 2022 and beyond.
As for the millions evicted, well, you can't vote without an address, can you?
Which was always the point.