The Biden administration has called on Congress to extend a federal freeze on evictions set to expire on Saturday, arguing its hands are tied by the Supreme Court.
Even with the moratorium in place, property owners across the country have filed almost half a million eviction petitions.
The moratorium, essentially a nationwide ban on evictions, was put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last September.
In June, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow the eviction ban to continue through the end of July but signaled in its ruling that it would block any further extensions unless there was “clear and specific congressional authorization.”
The new statement comes as the country grapples with a COVID-19 surge fueled by the highly contagious delta variant.
Amid public outcry, House Democratic leadership was looking to possibly take legislative action by the end of the week, before legislators leave for a six-week recess, to extend the freeze until the end of December, ABC News was told. Senate Democrats were also preparing legislation to extend the moratorium for the same duration, according to a Democratic aide.
“Given the recent spread of the Delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Thursday.
“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available. In June, when CDC extended the eviction moratorium until July 31st, the Supreme Court’s ruling stated that ‘clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31,'” she added, citing Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s concurring opinion.
By a vote of 5 to 4, the top court rejected a request from two associations of relators in Alabama and Georgia and group of property management companies seeking an emergency injunction against the CDC, which imposed the moratorium.
“In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling,” Psaki said, “the President calls on Congress to extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay.”
In the meantime, Biden has asked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture and Department of Veterans Affairs to each extend their respective eviction bans through the end of September, which Psaki said “will provide continued protection for households living in federally-insured, single-family properties.”