As we’ve frequently chronicled here on RedState, the whole governmental response to the Wuhan virus after the 2020 election and the subsequent installation of a booger-eating dementia patient in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has had much more to do with the deprivation of liberty than it has with public health. While none of the interventions imposed upon America by politicians and public health nazis have had any observable effect upon the severity of the virus, all have had a detrimental effect upon the civil liberties of Americans and the rights guaranteed to us under the US Constitution. For example, never before in our history have churches been ordered closed by the government. Never before has our ability to gather in whatever numbers we please been restricted. Never before have we been required to wear any type of paraphernalia to move about in public. And never before has a federal agency claimed to have the authority to abrogate contracts between consenting parties, causing the potential financial ruin of one of those parties.
As part of the alleged pandemic response, Congress decided to declare a “moratorium” on evictions. While this may have arguably had a laudable purpose, the real effect was to encourage a non-trivial number of tenants to refuse to pay rent and leave their landlords on the hook for mortgage and insurance payments as well as repairs. For instance, this story from the New York Times: A Landlord Says Her Tenants Are Terrorizing Her. She Can’t Evict Them.
Ms. Mangal found no respite from stress when she went home. She is a landlord who rents the basement and first-floor apartments at her home in Queens, and for the past year, conflicts with her tenants have poisoned the atmosphere in her house.
The first-floor tenants have not paid rent in 15 months, bang on the ceiling below her bed at all hours for no apparent reason and yell, curse and spit at her, Ms. Mangal said. A tenant in the basement apartment also stopped paying rent, keyed Ms. Mangal’s car and dumped packages meant for her by the garbage. After Ms. Mangal got an order of protection and then a warrant for the tenant’s arrest, the woman and her daughter moved out.
All told, Ms. Mangal — who has captured many of her tenants’ actions on surveillance video — has not only lost sleep from the tensions inside her two-story home but also $36,600 in rental income. “It’s been really horrendous,” she said. “What am I supposed to do — live like this?”
The original moratorium was promulgated by federal law, the “CARES Act,” signed into law in March 2020. That law only covered properties financed through federal loan programs. Since that time, the CDC has claimed the authority to extend that rule to all properties and has repeatedly extended the length of the moratorium, which the law set at 120-days. The last iteration of the CDC diktat expired yesterday.
There was a lot of hope expressed among the more virulently anti-American Democrats in Congress (that would be most of them) that a new eviction moratorium would be passed, but Congress adjourned for its August recess with no action, and the prospects of a renewed moratorium are, in my opinion, grim. So now the blame game is underway full force. From the Washington Post, Congressional action on eviction moratorium extension stalls out.
President Biden on Friday put the onus on state and local governments to stem the impacts of evictions, hours before the collapse of a late push led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for Congress to extend a federal evictions moratorium.
Biden urged those governments to use funds granted in earlier coronavirus relief bills more quickly as the federal moratorium on evictions expires Saturday night.
“State and local governments began receiving Emergency Rental Assistance funding in February and were eligible for an additional $21.5 billion passed in the American Rescue Plan,” Biden said in a statement. “Five months later, with localities across the nation showing that they can deliver funds effectively — there can be no excuse for any state or locality not accelerating funds to landlords and tenants that have been hurt during this pandemic.”
Biden’s plea came as House Democratic leaders tried to corral support among their caucus to push the eviction moratorium deadline until October, an effort that turned into a herculean task as the leadership tried to whip support at the 11th hour before the House started its nearly two-month recess. The effort ultimately failed.
About 20 moderate Democrats opposed the extension because of concerns that the period was too long for the federal moratorium to continue without oversight of how efficiently money previously approved to stem the evictions was being distributed to tenants, several Democratic aides said on the condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing internal negotiations.
Democratic leaders and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) huddled for over two hours Friday afternoon in Pelosi’s office, where they launched another effort — including Pelosi’s making personal calls to members — to twist arms and get support for the legislation.
Even so, the chance for progress looked slim as hours ticked by and members were seen leaving Capitol Hill after receiving little guidance about whether a vote could happen Friday evening. Knowing they didn’t have the votes, Democratic leaders still tried to pass the compromise by unanimous consent request Friday evening. It failed on an objection by Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.) and the House began its August recess.
Afterward, Pelosi cast blame on Republicans for not supporting the extension and urged local governments to “take whatever steps are necessary” to distribute the rental assistance funds allocated by Congress.
“We are proud and pleased that, overwhelmingly, House Democrats have understood the hardship caused by rental evictions and support extending the eviction moratorium to October 18, 2021. Unfortunately, not a single Republican would support this measure,” Pelosi said in a joint statement with Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.).
Unfortunately, that effort was strangled in its crib (ordinarily, I wouldn’t use child-murder metaphors, but these are Democrats, and this is what they do) by none other than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an interview with CNN’s aging muppet, Jake Tapper.
CNN’s @jaketapper: “Who’s to blame” for the failure to extend the eviction moratorium?
— The Recount (@therecount) August 1, 2021
My colleague Nickarama has the low-down on the intramural bloodletting at More Left Eats Left: AOC Rips Apart Biden WH for Not Being ‘Forthright.’
Now Nancy Pelosi is taking a different tack and trying to pin the tail of failure on the CDC.
It is a moral imperative to keep people from being put out in the street which also contributes to the public health emergency.
The virus is still a threat, the moratorium must be extended and the funds Congress allocated to assist renters and landlords must be spent.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 1, 2021
Whether this works or not remains to be seen.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, upheld the ability of the CDC to extend the eviction moratorium illegally. The deciding vote was Brett “I want to be David Souter” Kavanaugh. However, his concurrence with the decision came with an admonition.
With a brief, unsigned order on Tuesday night, the court turned down the real estate agents’ request. Four of the court’s conservative justices – Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett – indicated that they would have granted the request and put the moratorium on hold. Although the justices do not always reveal their votes on requests for emergency relief, the real estate agents would have prevailed if a fifth justice had voted in their favor, which means that the remaining justices – Roberts, Kavanaugh and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – all voted against relief.
Kavanaugh wrote a short concurring opinion in which he explained his vote. He noted that although he agreed that the real estate agents were correct, the moratorium is scheduled to end ”in only a few weeks,” and keeping it in place until then “will allow for additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds” by the Department of the Treasury. However, Kavanaugh cautioned, he believes that “clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31.”
More on this from my colleague Bonchie, Brett Kavanaugh’s Gelatinous Spine Green-Lights More Government Theft.
Not only has Kavanaugh promised, for what that’s worth, to strike down any future attempt to CDC to claim the right to control all rental housing in the United States, but the Sixth Circuit has struck down the existing moratorium after the Supreme Court took a pass.
Biden has extended an eviction moratorium on properties bought using HUD and VA guaranteed loans, but this covers homeowners, not renters. I think the decision to make this order limited was very deliberate.
The optics of this for the Democrats are bad. Their base was demanding action on a key issue, and Biden and Pelosi refused to break a sweat delivering on it. The Squad is turning its fire on the Democrats. The courts are looking askance at this travesty.
In the end, I don’t think this is going to be a big economic issue as billions of dollars have been sent to states and municipalities for this purpose, and they have yet to be obligated. Perhaps a wave of impending evictions will free up this money for its intended purpose. If not, some people will have learned a valuable lesson about what they should have done with that stimulus money that was thrown around the landscape.