Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden play hot potato with evictions, pointing fingers over who should extend the moratorium

Nancy Pelosi Joe Biden pointing fingers
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images; Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
  • Pelosi and Biden are clashing on who should renew the federal eviction ban.
  • “It is unfathomable that we would not act to prevent people from being evicted,” Pelosi said.
  • The White House said its hands are tied given a recent Supreme Court ruling.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging the White House to extend the federal eviction moratorium that ended on Saturday. Since Democrats failed to renew it on Friday, they’ve been clashing with President Joe Biden over who needs do it, in a game of hot potato.

“It is unfathomable that we would not act to prevent people from being evicted,” Pelosi said in a statement on Monday, doubling down on her call for the White House to step in.

The eviction moratorium ended on July 31, and 6 million people are at risk of being evicted in the coming months. An emergency rental-relief program that formed part of Biden’s stimulus has been slow in distributing aid to many renters.

Pelosi, along with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Democratic Whip James Clyburn, on Sunday called renewing the federal eviction ban “a moral imperative” to keep Americans in their homes during another surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The statements came after the White House said on Thursday that it would allow the eviction ban to expire. The White House said a Supreme Court decision had tied its hands and called on Congress to act instead. They did again on Monday, and said it had explored a limited freeze on evictions a day after the measure ended.

But House Democrats failed to renew the ban on Friday, and lawmakers headed to their home districts for a summer recess that’s expected to stretch into late September.

Some Democrats are ramping up pressure to bring the House back into session so they can take action on renewing the moratorium with new legislation. But they likely don’t have enough political support to do it, given resistance from moderate Democrats to an extension. Only eight states are halting evictions.

Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, a progressive Democrat, has been sleeping on the steps of the Capitol since Friday evening.

She told Insider on Saturday morning that Democrats needed to take up a new bill on the moratorium immediately.

“We were elected to do the hard things,” Bush said. “How are we going to say to the American people we’re allowing 7 million people to not have homes while Democrats are in the majority?”

Some Senate Democrats started to acknowledge that they fell short without attaching specific blame. “Somebody dropped the ball. It could have been on our end of Pennsylvania Avenue or on the president’s end,” Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-ranked Senate Democrat, told NBC News on Monday. “The reality is: millions of Americans face eviction.”

But other Democrats said the party should own up to its failure to act.

“We have to really just call a spade a spade,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a CNN interview on Sunday. “We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have the majority,” the New York congresswoman said.