WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s administration is planning to issue a targeted moratorium on evictions in areas hardest hit by COVID-19, replacing a nationwide evictions freeze that expired Saturday despite previously raising legal concerns about doing so unilaterally.
The new action, which is expected to last 60 days, will ban evictions in counties with high rates of COVID-19 transmission, reflecting where the Centers of Disease and Prevention recommends vaccinated resident masks indoors and in public settings, two sources familiar told USA TODAY.
Biden confirmed the move after delivering remarks on the COVID-19 pandemic at the White House. The president said he sought input from constitutional scholars to determine whether the CDC had the legal authority to issue a new evictions action but it was unclear whether it could pass constitutional muster.
Biden said that pending litigation will “probably give some additional time” for rental assistance funds to flow. The president said his hope is the new targeted action would in some way cover close to 90% of Americans who are renters.
Outside the Capitol Tuesday, Schumer recognized Democratic Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who had camped on the Capitol steps since Friday to draw attention to the issue.
“You did this,” Schumer said.
Biden has faced a growing backlash from progressive Democrats after the Democrat-controlled House adjourned for recess last week without taking action on a bill that would have renewed the moratorium. It comes as the rise in the coronavirus delta variant has stoked new fears about a resurging pandemic.
Biden’s action comes one day after Pelosi called on Biden to extend the moratorium after the House adjourned last week for August recess without taking action to do so. Biden had called on Congress to extend the halt on evictions but Democrats struggled to get enough votes to pass the measures. The back-and-forth marked a rare dispute between Biden and his own party.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: White House to set new federal moratorium on evictions