Washington (US), August 4: Facing mounting pressure from progressive Democratic lawmakers and the spike of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. President Joe Biden's administration on Tuesday issued a new 60-day eviction moratorium to prevent millions of American renters from being forced to leave their homes.
The "temporary" moratorium, issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will expire on Oct. 3. Targeting areas with high or substantial COVID-19 transmission, it covers 80 percent of U.S. counties and 90 percent of the U.S. population.
"The emergence of the delta variant has led to a rapid acceleration of community transmission in the United States, putting more Americans at increased risk, especially if they are unvaccinated," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Tuesday.
"This moratorium is the right thing to do to keep people in their homes and out of congregate settings where COVID-19 spreads," he said.
The new order is limited and targeted, separate from the agency's prior eviction moratorium that expired on July 31, the CDC said.
However, the new eviction moratorium could face legal challenges since the Supreme Court ruled in June that the CDC overstepped its authority when it created such policies and any further extension would require congressional authorization.
The White House said on Monday that the CDC has been "unable to find legal authority for a new, targeted eviction moratorium," urging the Congress to act "without delay."
However, House Democratic leaders repeatedly said that "it is clear" the evenly split Senate won't extend the eviction moratorium, urging the White House to take unilateral action.
Earlier on Tuesday, Democratic lawmakers protested outside the U.S. Capitol, urging the Biden administration to act on the issue.
Biden told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that he isn't sure whether the new order will pass constitutional muster, but any litigation would "probably give some additional time" for rental assistance funds to flow.
"Any call for a moratorium based on the Supreme Court's recent decision is likely to face obstacles. I've indicated to the CDC I'd like to look at other alternatives," said the president.
The prior eviction moratorium was credited with keeping more than 2 million renters in their homes during the rampant pandemic across the country, according to local media reports.