WASHINGTON, Aug 2 (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday put fresh pressure on the White House to renew a COVID-19 pandemic-related residential eviction moratorium after lawmakers failed to extend it before it expired over the weekend.
House Democrats made an effort to extend the moratorium implemented by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to Oct. 18 but a Republican congressman blocked their bid to pass the measure by unanimous consent on Friday. The moratorium has protected millions of renters who have fallen behind on rent from being forced from apartments and houses.
In a letter to fellow House Democrats, Pelosi urged President Joe Biden’s administration to renew the moratorium without congressional action. Pelosi told lawmakers such an extension from the administration would provide more time to expedite distribution of $46.5 billion already allocated by Congress for rental relief. Around $3 billion of that figure has been distributed.
“The money must flow, and the moratorium must be extended by the administration,” Pelosi wrote.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen plans to brief lawmakers on the eviction mitigation funds on Tuesday, Pelosi said.
Biden on Thursday called for Congress to extend the moratorium, noting that a Supreme Court opinion last month indicated that legislative approval would be required to do so.
More than 15 million people in 6.5 million U.S. households are currently behind on rental payments, according to a study by the Aspen Institute and the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, collectively owing more than $20 billion to landlords.
The CDC issued the residential eviction ban in September 2020 after a prior moratorium approved by Congress expired. It had most recently been renewed for a month by the CDC in June before expiring at midnight on Saturday.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Will Dunham)