By Brett Wilkins / Common Dreams
Pressure from progressive lawmakers and grassroots activists to extend the expired federal eviction moratorium paid off Tuesday when the Biden administration took action to shield most—but not all—U.S. renters at risk of losing their homes.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the new moratorium “is intended to target specific areas of the country where cases are rapidly increasing, which likely would be exacerbated by mass evictions.”
Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein tweeted Tuesday afternoon that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) confirmed that the new CDC moratorium “will cover 90% of the country” and “last for 60 days.”
“Schumer says, ‘I particularly applaud Cori Bush,’ who he says gave ‘voice to the millions’ at risk of eviction,” Stein added.
Reacting to news of the new CDC moratorium, Bush (D-Mo.) tweeted, “Today, our movement moved mountains.”
Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, said in a statement that Bush “demonstrated exactly the kind of leadership on behalf of working people that we need to see more of in the Democratic Party.”
“We saw what it’s like when one of the lowest-income Americans ever elected to national office challenged a Congress that is half made up of millionaires,” said Rojas. “With a little conflict and disruption of business as usual, she created a way out of ‘no-way.’ This isn’t the end of the battle for housing rights, but a new beginning. People deserve so much more than just basic protections from evictions during a pandemic.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement that “today’s extension of the eviction moratorium is life-changing news for millions of people.”
“I want to thank the Biden administration for finding a way to keep people in their homes while states distribute the $47 billion in assistance that Democrats in Congress provided in the American Rescue Plan,” Sanders continued. “I’m also very proud of Reps. Cori Bush, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [D-N.Y.] and the [Congressional] Progressive Caucus for leading the effort to push the federal government to respond directly to the needs of the working class.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) tweeted that “this couldn’t have happened without the monthslong advocacy of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.” The Caucus chair hailed the “committed, clear-eyed activists like Bush leading the way, galvanizing attention, and calling on D.C. to govern with moral clarity,” adding that “it gets results.”
After House Democrats on Friday gave up on an eleventh-hour effort to pass a bill from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) to extend the moratorium just before the lower chamber adjourned for August recess, the eviction ban lapsed on Saturday, putting millions of U.S. renters at risk of losing their homes amid the worsening Covid-19 pandemic.
Rather than leave Washington, D.C. like many of her congressional colleagues, Bush, along with Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), slept outside the U.S. Capitol building Friday night to demand that the House immediately reconvene to extend the moratorium.
The “Squad” members were joined over the weekend by other lawmakers and activists, who demanded that President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Schumer, and other leaders “stop playing the blame game” and “do whatever it takes” to “end this eviction emergency.”