The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week against the Biden administration’s effort to extend the national eviction moratorium, insisting that such an order would need legislative approval.
On Friday, however, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appeared to admit that congressional action on the matter is unlikely.
“Immorally ripped away that relief”
Rather than propose a legislative solution, she appeared to be more interested in complaining about the Supreme Court’s decision.
In a statement released on Friday, Pelosi offered a harsh assessment of the ruling.
“Earlier this month, thanks to the leadership of President Biden and Congressional Democrats, the imminent fear of eviction and being put out on the street was lifted for countless families across America with the issuing of a new CDC eviction moratorium,” Pelosi wrote. “Last night, the Supreme Court immorally ripped away that relief in a ruling that is arbitrary and cruel.”
There are millions of Americans on either side of the debate over whether the ruling was immoral or cruel, but the pertinent question is whether it adheres to the law. Pelosi carefully avoided that factor in favor of striking a more emotional tone.
“Congressional Democrats have not and will not ever accept a situation of mass evictions,” she declared. “We will continue our work to ensure families suffering hardship during the pandemic can have the safety of home, as we also work with communities to ensure the immediate disbursement by states and localities of the over $45 billion allocated by Congress for rental assistance.”
“But that has not happened”
One action notably absent from Pelosi’s statement is the pursuit of a congressionally approved eviction moratorium. It appears that in a narrowly divided Congress, the speaker is tacitly giving up the fight.
For its part, the Biden administration attempted to bypass legislators in extending a moratorium that was set to expire at the end of July. Though the nominally limited order applied only to counties “experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission” of COVID-19, that distinction applied to the vast majority of all Americans.
Landlords and property owners argued in court that the CDC exceeded its authority — and the nation’s highest court agreed.
“It would be one thing if Congress had specifically authorized the action that the CDC has taken,” the court determined. “But that has not happened.”
Notably, even President Joe Biden acknowledged this fact in announcing the extension earlier this month, asserting that the “bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster.”