WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has words for the White House as President Joe Biden calls on Congress to extend a pandemic-related eviction moratorium that is set to expire on Saturday.
“I think at bare minimum it has to be extended until the end of the year,” Ocasio-Cortez told reporters outside the House chamber on Thursday afternoon. “The Biden administration saying it should be extended until September is absolutely unacceptable.”
The eviction moratorium prohibits landlords from evicting certain tenants who fail to pay rent as a form of pandemic relief. The moratorium was challenged in the Supreme Court last month when justices ruled 5-4 that congressional action would be required to extend the moratorium beyond the July 31 deadline mandated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ocasio-Cortez was asked by reporters Thursday afternoon during House votes if the White House has done enough to protect Americans from eviction. “Absolutely not,” she replied. “This is, frankly, quite shameful. They could have spoken up more. They could have handed this off to Congress earlier. The fact that they’re doing this last minute, right before the Congress and the House is set to adjourn… it’s embarrassing and these are millions of people’s lives on the line and the fact that they wait until 48 hours beforehand and waited until after the courts… this could have been much more active communication.”
As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, Ocasio-Cortez was quick to point out that the committee had hosted Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary Marcia Fudge to read a statement before a full committee hybrid hearing on July 20.
“We were engaging with [Secretary Fudge] and asking about the administration’s stances and they have been radio silent,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Playing games and threatening a mass eviction crisis like this is threatening not only to exacerbate COVID and risking exploding the transmission of the Delta variant, but a mass eviction crisis is in-and-of-itself a compounding public health emergency.”
“Housing is one of the number one social indicators of health,” Ocasio-Cortez continued, “so what this is is reckless and irresponsible. So now we’re scrambling but it could have been avoided with better communication and frankly, more forthright leadership from the White House.”
Pablo Manríquez is Latino Rebels’ Washington correspondent. He is an immigrant from Santiago de Chile with a political science degree from the University of Notre Dame. The Washington Post calls him “an Internet folk hero.” Twitter: @PabloReports.