Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called her Democratic colleagues “cowards” for not being proactive enough in pushing to extend the existing federal eviction moratorium before Congress adjourns for summer recess.
Speaking to CNN on Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez blamed “conservative Democrats” for her party’s failure to advance legislation to extend the eviction moratorium.
“The House and House leadership had the opportunity to vote thosungo extend the moratorium and there was, frankly, a handful of conservative Democrats in the House that threatened to get on planes rather than hold this vote,” the New York representative said.
She went on to call her Democratic colleagues “cowards” and demanded they return to Washington to “put their names next to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote, or the White House needs to do a damn thing about [eviction moratoriums]. … At the end of the day, the emergency is here. And so we need to exercise all avenues.”
In a tweet Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez wrote “Housing is a human right.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s fellow squad members — Representatives Cori Bush, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar — have been camping outside the Capitol steps since Friday to protest the end of the eviction ban, which expired July 31st. Bush tweeted Sunday, “We’re still here. We have to reconvene the House and vote to reinstate the eviction moratorium to put an end to the eviction emergency. 11 million lives and livelihoods are on the line.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer pursued an legislative effort Friday to extend the moratorium through October 18, but partisan disagreements left it dead in the water. President Biden urged Congress the day before to extend the moratorium, claiming that executive action was off the table due to a recent Supreme Court decision.
Acknowledging the measure’s defeat in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic House leaders pled with Biden in a joint statement to unilaterally extend the ban.
“Action is needed, and it must come from the Administration… Doing so is a moral imperative to keep people from being put out on the street which also contributes to the public health emergency,” it read. The letter also called on the Treasury Department to specify how the funds that have been directed to states and communities can be better allocated to struggling renters and landlords.
The CDC announced the moratorium last September as a crowd-control mechanism to prevent virus outbreaks, citing population displacement as a large factor in transmission. The ban has been extended multiple times since then.
The Supreme Court ruled to maintain the eviction ban in a case last month, although Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in a concurring opinion that the onus would fall to Congress to prolong it past its July end date.
Like Ocasio-Cortez, Bush had some choice words for the Democrats who left Capitol Hill before a eviction ban extension could coalesce, tweeting Saturday, “Good morning. The eviction moratorium expires tonight at midnight. We could have extended it yesterday, but some Democrats went on vacation instead.”
Chairman of the Rules Committee Democratic Representative Jim McGovern signaled his support for extending the moratorium, Bush suggested in a tweet.
As a last-resort strategy, some House members are deliberating lobbying Senators to add an amendment to the bipartisan infrastructure package pending in the Senate to extend the eviction freeze. That plan is scheduled to go to a vote this week.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said she would be on board with rallying the Senate to push back the moratorium, Bush shared in another tweet.