Biden’s CDC Orders New Unconstitutional Eviction Moratorium

Throws struggling small landlords under the bus.

The Biden administration’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new "temporary" moratorium order on tenant evictions following the expiration of the previous moratorium order on July 31, 2021. President Biden once again bowed to pressure from the left-wing progressive base of his party. Landlords from Alabama and Georgia have already sued in federal court to block the new CDC order. They have a good chance of succeeding.

Representative Cori Bush of Missouri, a radical member of the “Squad,” conducted a sit-in on the U.S. Capitol steps to press for a new eviction moratorium. She also released her “Statement on Eviction Emergency.” Rep. Bush wanted Biden to take immediate unilateral executive action rather than wait for congressional authorization. This far-left progressive’s street style activism worked. Biden used the CDC as an instrument to push forward the far left’s agenda.

Cori Bush hates America. “When they say that the 4th of July is about American freedom, remember this: the freedom they’re referring to is for white people,” she tweeted on Independence Day. “This land is stolen land and Black people still aren’t free.”

This was the woman Biden listened to when he decided to have the CDC move forward with its new eviction moratorium order. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki admitted as much when she said, “I don’t think anyone could hear Congresswoman Bush’s own personal story and experience and see her advocacy and her passion, and not be moved by that.”

For her part, Rep. Bush spiked the ball after she got what she wanted. “I hope people see right now that I mean what I say,” Bush boasted in a tweet following Biden’s surrender to her demand. “Hopefully, this has shown not only leadership, the caucus, but our progressive family that when we say we are not going to back down, we don’t back down.”

Obviously, Biden got the message. Not long before the CDC issued its new order, Biden had acknowledged there were serious doubts whether the CDC has the constitutional authority to do so on its own. Yet Biden encouraged the CDC to go ahead anyway.  He was counting on ensuing litigation to provide “some additional time" for states like New York to get their act together and properly distribute the federally appropriated rental assistance funds the states had received.

The Supreme Court, by a vote of 5-4, had allowed the previous “temporary” moratorium to run its course until it expired at the end of July. However, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who joined the majority in that decision, issued a warning in his concurring opinion. Justice Kavanaugh indicated that he would vote to block any further extensions unless there was "clear and specific congressional authorization."

The CDC issued its new order in the absence of any congressional authorization. The final outcome of the legal challenge to the order should be open-and-shut if and when the landlords’ case reaches the Supreme Court.

The CDC thought it was being clever by packaging its new eviction moratorium order as substantially different from the expired order. The Biden White House argued that this order targeted only the counties with high or substantial COVID-19 case rates.

The White House and CDC are being too clever by half. The new order now covers about 90 percent of the country – hardly a limited targeted effort to reach only the most critical cases. In any event, the CDC still lacks the congressional authority to issue the order.

As Biden admitted in one of his more lucid moments, the CDC’s action is simply a ploy to buy time. But the new CDC order will crush millions of small “mom and pop” landlords in the meantime. They desperately need the rent money right now that they are supposed to receive from non-paying tenants in order to pay off their own mortgages and maintain their properties.

"We are small rental property owners,” an advocate for mom-and-pop landlords from California said. “We are natural affordable housing providers. We are not in the business of social services, yet we are being forced to house our tenants for free, and it's impacting us in very real ways."

Brookings estimated that about “40 percent of residential property units are owned by individual investor landlords. Among those owning residential investment property, roughly a third are from low- to moderate-income households; property income constitutes up to 20 percent of their total household income.”

Both tenants and these low- to moderate-income “mom and pop” landlords have suffered from the economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. But the left-wing progressives pushing Biden to adopt their agenda don't care about the struggling small landlords who they are kicking to the curb. Not only is that cruel. It is counterproductive. If the landlords go under and are forced to abandon their properties, the tenants will either be living in uninhabitable conditions or will find themselves out on the street.

The landlords have a credible argument that the government’s rolling eviction moratoriums constitute a taking of their property without just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. A lawsuit filed by a group of landlords against the original CDC eviction moratorium order, based on the Fifth Amendment’s “Taking” clause, now has more legs to stand on after the CDC extended the eviction moratorium once again.

The federal moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent began as part of the CARES ACT. Covered tenants were protected from eviction until August 23, 2020. The first CDC eviction moratorium took effect September 4, 2020 and was supposed to expire on December 31, 2020. Congress then came to the rescue and extended the moratorium through January 31, 2021. After that, the CDC took over completely and issued successive “temporary” eviction moratorium orders.

The latest CDC order is supposed to expire on October 3, 2021. But we have heard that one before. There is nothing truly “temporary” about what the CDC is doing. Landlords are left in limbo, wondering whether the moratoriums will continue as long as there are any coronavirus variants spreading in the country.

President Biden is doing the left-wing progressives’ bidding by being willing to trample all over the Constitution. But removing Biden from office will only make Kamala Harris president, which would be even worse.

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