Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday spoke with House Democrats in an attempt to calm tensions over a recently expired federal eviction moratorium put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the conference call with the House Democratic Caucus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reportedly called for an extension to the eviction moratorium, but Yellen said that the administration cannot extend the ban as it did last June, noting that state and local governments should instead focus on distributing the $46 billion in rental assistance, most of which has yet to be spent. Yellen added that President Joe Biden has inquired with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to see if, legally, the administration can extend the moratorium.
“I thoroughly agree we need to bring every resource to bear,” Yellen said during the briefing, according to someone on the call who spoke to The New York Times.
The secretary also said that the administration will “leave no stone unturned” in regards to finding a solution to this crisis.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed on Monday that Biden asked the CDC about extending the eviction ban, but added that the agency has “been unable to find legal authority for a new, targeted eviction moratorium. Our team is redoubling efforts to identify all available legal authorities to provide necessary protections.”
Senior House Democrats have pushed back on the idea that the White House cannot extend the ban, with House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters, D-Calif., telling the Times on Monday that “I wish that the president, the CDC. would have gone forward and extended the moratorium. They have the power to do that. I think he should have gone in and he should have done it, and let the chips fall where they may.”
She tweeted on Monday: “I don't buy that the CDC can't extend the eviction moratorium — something it has already done in the past! Who is going to stop them? Who is going to penalize them? There is no official ruling saying that they cannot extend this moratorium. C'mon CDC - have a heart! Just do it!”
On Tuesday, in a letter to her fellow House members, Waters ripped the Biden administration over the government’s “refusal” to move on the eviction ban, opting instead for a “last-minute punt to Congress.”
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