House Democrats are doubtful of bringing a vote to extend the federal eviction moratorium before it expires on Saturday, with doubts emerging that there would not be enough Democratic votes to pass it.
A House panel met Friday morning to try and pass a last-minute extension after the White House confirmed they would allow it to expire this weekend. President Biden subsequently called upon Congress to expand the COVID-19 protection for tenants with the country facing rising cases of the Delta variant.
A Democratic lawmaker privately told The Washington Times that he did not believe the House had the votes to pass the extension and it was unlikely to come to a vote on Friday, the last day the lower chamber plans to be in session before a monthlong recess.
Members of the progressive wing of the caucus have been vocal about the need to extend the moratorium, which currently protects at least 6.4 million renters from being kicked out of their homes.
In June, more than 40 House Democrats wrote to Mr. Biden and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky urging them to extend and strengthen the current eviction moratorium in place.
“The impact of the federal moratorium cannot be overstated, and the need to strengthen and extend it is an urgent matter of health, racial, and economic justice,” the letter reads.
Members who signed onto the letter include Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Cori Bush of Missouri, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
At a press conference led by Democratic leadership on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed to put the responsibility onto the CDC.
“We would like the CDC to expand the moratorium,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said. “That’s where it can be done.”
The CDC’s eviction moratorium was put in place last year by former President Donald Trump and extended under Mr. Biden.
The White House said the president supports an extension of the eviction ban but the Supreme Court tied this hands in June by signaling it would strike down another extension unless Congress authorizes it.
“President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available.”
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Oregon Democrat, refused to rule out a House vote today, though he alluded to possibly a vote was not in the offing.
“One would think if they had the votes, we would be voting,” Mr. Blumenauer told The Washington Times. “It’s a work in progress.”
If the House mustered the votes to pass an extension, the bill would almost certainly die in a Republican filibuster when it reached the Senate.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri Democrat, said he hasn’t heard any frustrations towards the Biden administration on its 11th-hour ask but conceded that the request was “last minute.”
Mr. Cleaver chairs the subcommittee on housing, community development, and insurance under the House Financial Services Committee.
“It may be difficult to get this done today,” he said in an interview. “But it’s not because people aren’t interested. It’s just not that simple.”
Mr. Cleaver said he expects Democratic leaders to meet with the White House later Friday to discuss the matter.