AOC blames Democrats for eviction moratorium expiring: 'We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party'
Clarence Hamer, a landlord in Brooklyn, on how extended eviction moratoriums have impacted his business
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Sunday blamed Democrats – both in the House of Representatives and at the White House – for allowing the eviction moratorium to expire, as millions of American families are at risk of being kicked out of their homes.
"The House and House leadership had the opportunity to vote to extend the moratorium, and there was frankly a handful of conservative Democrats in the House who threatened to get on planes rather than hold this vote," she said on CNN "State of the Union." "We have to really just call a spade a spade. We cannot, in good faith, blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have the majority."
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June to allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep its eviction moratorium in place until July 31, saying that Congress would have to authorize any further extension. But the White House still waited a month until the day before the House adjourned to release a statement asking Congress to extend the moratorium, Ocasio-Cortez said.
A member of the House Financial Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over housing, she told CNN’s Jake Tapper that representatives had been pressing the House Secretary and the Biden administration for their stance on extending the eviction moratorium, but "they were not being forthright about that advocacy and that request until the day before the House adjourned."
"The House was put into a needlessly difficult situation," Ocasio-Cortez said, arguing her sentiment has been echoed by Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who rushed to draft a bill that would have extended the moratorium through the end of 2021. The bill failed to pass.
Despite the House of Representatives adjourning for the next seven weeks, Ocasio-Cortez said every member is on a 24-hour callback notice to Washington, D.C. in anticipation of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, as negotiations on the package still continue in the Senate.
"We have all left town with plans to come back within 24 hours if necessary. And I believe the expiration of the eviction moratorium and having 11 million Americans – one out of every six renters – at risk of being kicked out of their homes is worth coming back and triggering that 24-hour notice," Ocasio-Cortez said. "We cannot leave town without doing our job."
The American Rescue Plan allocated an additional $21.5 billion for Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) that can be used by renters to cover arrears and make landlords whole. That added to the $25 billion allocated under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, brings the total amount of assistance available to more than $46 billion.
Out of the $46 billion, Ocasio-Cortez said just $3 billion has gone out to help renters and small ‘mom and pop’ landlords. Money was handed over to state and local municipalities and each individual governor is responsible for establishing programs to get emergency rental assistance out in time.
"I think, in some states, some governors and state administrations might be slow walking this process to get it out. In other states, there’s the administrative burden of setting it up. But there are states and municipalities who have been getting it right. Frankly, those state governments need to get it together, but we cannot kick people out of their homes when our end of the bargain has not been fulfilled."
A report released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in March indicated that 11 million renter and homeowner households were significantly overdue on their regular housing payments as of December 2020, placing them at heightened risk of losing their homes to foreclosure or eviction over the coming months. As of July 5, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.
Biden said Thursday that the administration’s hands are tied after the Supreme Court signaled the moratorium would only be extended until the end of the month. He called on Congress to swiftly pass legislation to extend the date. Racing to respond, Democrats strained to rally the votes early Friday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi implored colleagues to pass legislation extending the deadline, calling it a "moral imperative," to protect renters and also the landlords who are owed compensation.
But after hours of behind-the-scenes wrangling throughout the day, Democratic lawmakers had questions and could not muster support to extend the ban even a few months. An attempt to simply approve an extension by consent, without a formal vote, was objected to by House Republicans.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.