Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday said Democrats cannot blame Republicans for the expiration of the eviction moratorium.
“The House and House leadership had the opportunity to vote to extend the moratorium. … We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have the majority,” the progressive New York Democrat said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This Court order came down on the White House a month ago, and the White House waited until the day before the House adjourned to release a statement asking Congress to extend the moratorium.”
Members of the Biden administration on Sunday pushed back strongly on that characterization with millions of renters who are behind in their payments at risk of homelessness after efforts to extend the moratorium fizzled ahead of a midnight deadline. Congress has sent out tens of billions of dollars to states and municipalities, meaning governors are largely responsible for establishing rental help programs.
“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. Out of the $46 billion that has been allocated, only $3 billion has gone out to help renters and small mom and pop landlords,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Ocasio-Cortez organized a sit-in Saturday at midnight in Washington, D.C., tweeting “We’re out here to extend the moratorium, so where’s Congress? It’s time we come back and #ExtendTheMoratorium.”
The rally came after eight House lawmakers, including Ocasio-Cortez, urged President Joe Biden in a letter to extend the moratorium. There are fewer than a dozen state eviction bans in place, POLITICO reported on Friday.
In a statement released Friday, President Joe Biden called on state and local governments “to take all possible steps to immediately disburse these funds.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who deferred on commenting directly on a video showing Ocasio-Cortez slamming Democratic inaction on the evictions ban, said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday morning: “Let’s be clear, the administration has been acting throughout, and the president views this as a moral issue and not just a political one.”
He further cited the emergency rental assistance to state, “though it’s not necessarily getting to everyone.”
Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, said on Fox News on Sunday that it’s now up to the states to disperse the billions of dollars to landlords and renters: “That money is there. The states have the tools, the localities have the tools, and there’s no excuse. They need to move that money to those renters and those landlords immediately.”
Deese said the White House can extend the eviction moratorium for properties that are backed by government guarantees, like HUD, USDA and the VA. “But the key message here is that no landlord should evict without seeking that rental assistance,” Deese said.