The CDC’s eviction moratorium may be touted as a humanitarian achievement, but President Biden has thrown out the Constitution and harmed American landlords with its extension.
Mere days after a previous ban on evictions expired, the CDC announced an additional halt on evictions in communities with particularly high levels of COVID-19. The CDC says that the new moratorium is rooted in fears of increased virus transmission in counties with “substantial or high levels” of COVID-19 spread.
Current CDC data shows that 85.12 percent of U.S. counties fall under this label, exacerbating the mandate’s effect to a near-national level. While the moratorium’s rationale is the spread of the coronavirus’ Delta variant, CDC data shows that the seven-day average of COVID-19 deaths per day has fallen to 296 nationwide. Deaths in New York City, once an epicenter of the pandemic, have fallen to a seven-day average of three per day, according to the New York Times. In April 2020, by comparison, deaths in New York City were sitting at a stunning seven-day average of 829 per day.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky said the eviction moratorium’s extension was guided by a “moral imperative.”
The halt was lauded by prominent Democrats, including Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri. Bush slept on the Capitol steps for several days in protest as the White House wavered on reinstating the moratorium. After the CDC announced the new moratorium, Bush penned a piece for CNN in which she called her protest an example of the power of individual people. “[T]here is no limit to what we can do,” opined Bush.
President Biden had previously been reluctant to extend the eviction moratorium, as he said such an extension is not within the constitutional power of the White House according to most experts. “The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it’s [the eviction moratorium] not likely to pass constitutional muster,” he said. The Supreme Court ruled in June that the moratorium could not be extended without congressional approval.
However, after the moratorium rollout, CNN reporter Stephen Collinson described Biden’s move to override the Supreme Court’s authority as “improvis[ing] with executive power.” According to Collinson, “Even President Joe Biden doesn’t know whether his new federal eviction moratorium for renters is legal.” Collinson covered the issue in an article, tellingly headlined “Biden shows he’s ready to make drastic moves in Covid-19 fight — even if he’s not sure they’re legal.”
Conservative pundits have gone after the administration’s breach of executive authority. National Review senior writer Charles Cooke penned a column for USA Today which called the move “the most egregious act of executive usurpation in decades — perhaps longer.” Cooke compared Biden’s use of executive power to that of predecessors Bush, Obama, and Trump, noting that “None of them [Bush, Obama, and Trump] . . . saw fit to defy the Supreme Court.” Cooke lambasted Biden’s move, saying that the president “knows he’s violating his oath — and he doesn’t care.”
Despite this glaring constitutional issue, the new eviction moratorium is being put into effect, and American landlords are already feeling the effects of this continued federal control.
Michael Sullivan, a landlord in Connecticut, told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” that the halt in evictions has cost him more than $30,000. Sullivan says that the eviction moratorium is “a huge problem.” Due to Biden’s new moratorium, Sullivan is now liable for tens of thousands of dollars of rent. “I’ve never been contacted, never saw my case go through, had an auditor assigned, nothing.” Sullivan lamented: “[E]very week I call to see the status of it [rent], and it is going nowhere. . . . I’m out $34,000.”
Sullivan’s situation is hardly unique — a housing group coalition is suing the Biden administration and the CDC over the moratorium, slamming the mandate as “nakedly political.” According to the suit, “[T]he CDC caved to the political pressure by extending the moratorium, without providing any legal basis.”
Landlords say that the precedent set by the new moratorium also erodes trust in the Biden administration. Bob Pinnegar, president and chief executive of the landlord trade group National Apartment Association, said that “The government took a firm stance that there would be an end to the [ban]. . . . [n]ow, there’s no faith.”
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