President Joe Biden had “double, triple, quadruple checked” whether the federal government had the authority to ban housing evictions, said advisor Gene Sperling in a press briefing this August. But, according to Sperling, the president had been “unable to find the legal authority.” That was a Monday, just days after the July 31st expiration of the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) eviction moratorium in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The very next day the Biden Administration completely reversed its position, extending the CDC’s eviction ban another three months.
In announcing his reversal, the president was honest: there was no newfound legal justification for the CDC’s actions. But, “by the time it gets litigated,” said Biden, “it will probably give some additional time” for financial aid to reach renters. His policy reversal came on the heels of immense political pressure from fellow Democrats. Congresswoman Cori Bush, once homeless herself, slept outside the U.S. Capitol in protest of the administration’s original refusal to extend the anti-eviction policy. Fellow House member Maxine Waters even dared the CDC to act with or without a legal justification: “Who is going to stop them? Who is going to penalize them?”
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