When she’s right, she’s right. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasted the White House and her own House leadership for letting the eviction moratorium expire, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union that she could not “in good faith” blame Republicans. After all, the Supreme Court set the July 31 deadline on June 29th. So why did it take Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden until July 30th to start working on it?
CNN’s @jaketapper: Who’s to blame for the eviction moratorium expiring?
Rep. @AOC : “There was, frankly, a handful of conservative Democrats in the House that threatened to get on planes rather than hold this vote and we have to really just call a spade a spade.” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/FXW7o1SIOD
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) August 1, 2021
“The House and House leadership had the opportunity to vote to extend the moratorium. … We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have the majority,” the progressive New York Democrat said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This Court order came down on the White House a month ago, and the White House waited until the day before the House adjourned to release a statement asking Congress to extend the moratorium.”
Members of the Biden administration on Sunday pushed back strongly on that characterization with millions of renters who are behind in their payments at risk of homelessness after efforts to extend the moratorium fizzled ahead of a midnight deadline. Congress has sent out tens of billions of dollars to states and municipalities, meaning governors are largely responsible for establishing rental help programs.
“Those state governments need to get it together, but we cannot kick people out of their homes when our end of the bargain has not been fulfilled. Out of the $46 billion that has been allocated, only $3 billion has gone out to help renters and small mom and pop landlords,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
On that last point, Ocasio-Cortez is also correct, but it undercuts her argument for further congressional intervention. What is the point of extending the moratorium when the money has already been distributed to the states for dealing with the issue? The Supreme Court’s signal on the deadline — and their warning that the CDC could no longer act to extend it — was meant for the governors as well as Congress. Tens of billions of dollars have been willed into existence by Congress for the purpose of dealing with this crisis. If governors can’t spend it properly by now, there is little evidence to suggest that giving them another sixty days would improve matters much.
In other words, you can lead a bureaucrat to the taxpayer trough, but you can’t force him to use the cashflow wisely. Pushing deadlines to accommodate failure doesn’t do much except to indemnify failure. It might be better at this point for Congress to explain that and push the onus back to the states to deal with the situation themselves, which arguably should have been the first response to this crisis.
Unfortunately, that leaves a lot of renters and landlords stuck with the bill, literally. Regardless of the wisdom of the federal intervention, Congress and the White House set the expectation for a rational wind-down of this program that would buffer the impacts of the moratorium’s expiration. Instead, Biden and Pelosi have dropped the ball spectacularly. And worst of all, it looks like the failure happened because neither of them could care less about the problem.