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New Federal Eviction Moratorium Is Issued After The Previous One Lapses

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

The Biden administration says it has a last-minute way to stop a wave of evictions. Last night, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a 60-day ban on evictions in parts of the country where coronavirus cases have risen to a substantial level. The thing is, right now that's most of America. Here's what CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told All Things Considered.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

ROCHELLE WALENSKY: I think there's a moral imperative here to make sure that people who are unstably housed in a period of time where we have extraordinary disease transmission in many parts of this country, that this is a true public health threat and that we need to keep people stably housed.

MARTINEZ: This comes after the Supreme Court ruled in June that Congress would need to act to extend a previous moratorium, and it comes after the White House faced intense pressure from congressional Democrats to do something to stop people from being evicted. White House correspondent Ayesha Rascoe joins me now to explain what happened. So how is this new order different from the old one?

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: The 19-page justification seems to be similar. The goal is to stop the spread of COVID among people who are less likely to be vaccinated. And a person who doesn't have a home may not have a lot of options, other than crowded, shared living situations, which isn't good for COVID. Still, the White House is describing this as a partial ban. They said that it's tailored to parts of the country experiencing a surge in cases. But of course, right now that's much of the country, the vast majority of U.S. counties. The CDC has extended bans like this multiple times since 2020. This order will expire on October 3, though the CDC says it could be renewed again.

MARTINEZ: How did we get here? What led up to this new order?

RASCOE: The rollout seemed really haphazard in a way, especially for this White House. Normally, policies have been unveiled in extremely organized, controlled fashion, but in this case, the previous eviction moratorium was expiring at the end of July. And everyone knew this, but when the time came last week, there was a lot of finger-pointing. The White House said Congress should have acted. Democrats in Congress were saying the White House needed to act. And the White House was saying its hands were tied by that Supreme Court decision you mentioned. And the administration was urging states and cities to use the $45 billion in aid that they had for renters to keep people - to keep millions from being put out on the streets.

MARTINEZ: Let's go back to Monday for a second. That's when Steve Inskeep spoke with Democratic Congressman Cori Bush of Missouri. She slept on the Capitol steps on Friday to protest over this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

STEVE INSKEEP: I think you're saying to the president, please extend this ban...

CORI BUSH: Please.

INSKEEP: ...And tell anybody who doesn't like it, sue me.

BUSH: Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. That's exactly what I'm saying. We're in the middle of a global, deadly pandemic. We cannot afford to have anywhere from 7 million to 11 million people now on the street.

MARTINEZ: Ayesha, how much tension was there among Democrats over this?

RASCOE: There was a lot. Cori Bush and other progressive Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez really elevated this issue, and they called Democrats out over it. You know, this issue has been getting a lot of focus in D.C. over other parts of the White House's agenda. And President Biden was giving remarks about his vaccine campaign here and around the world yesterday, but that was overshadowed by this news on the eviction ban.

MARTINEZ: All right, that's White House correspondent Ayesha Rascoe. Thank you very much.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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