Jacobs, Lee Lead Call for President Biden to End Unconstitutional Eviction Moratorium

August 11, 2021
Press Release

 

(Washington, D.C.) - Congressman Chris Jacobs (R-NY) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) led a bicameral letter with 29 members of Congress to President Biden calling for the administration to change course and end its unconstitutional eviction moratorium.

“We strongly oppose the Biden administration’s latest eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This latest action is plainly unconstitutional and will only serve to further distort the market and create a housing affordability crisis,” the lawmakers said. “Additionally, any further restrictions on evictions at this point are counterproductive. The economy is open, jobs and vaccines are abundant, and federal rental assistance is a reality.”

In a recent Supreme Court case, Alabama Association of Realtors v. Department of Health and Human Services, five members of the Supreme Court effectively acknowledged that CDC exceeded its authority in issuing the moratorium. Justice Kavanaugh stated that “clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31.”

“Instead of pursuing an unconstitutional moratorium, the Biden administration should be focused on distributing the nearly $50 billion in rental assistance that was appropriated through three separate stimulus packages.” the lawmakers said. “As long this moratorium remains in place, property owners will continue to struggle financially. These property owners must still pay mortgages, taxes, and maintenance for the dwelling. If this continues much longer, we will see a wave of bankruptcies, foreclosures, and blighted properties.”

Most states require the tenant to take the initiative when applying for rental assistance. A recent Treasury report found very little of the federal rental assistance money has been disbursed so far, and the new moratorium will act as an additional disincentive for tenants to apply for this aid, leaving property owners on the hook.

“We demand the Biden administration end this moratorium and allow the rental assistance funds to do what they were intended to do. This government overreach must end,” the lawmakers said.

Senators signing the letter include:

Mike Lee (R-UT), James Lankford (R-OK), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Jerry Moran (R-KS)

 

Representatives signing the letter include:

Scott Perry (R-PA-10), Rick Crawford (R-AR-01), Bob Gibbs (R-OH-07), Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01), Greg Steube (R-FL-17), Barry Moore (R-AL-02), Michael Cloud (R-TX-27), Fred Keller (R-PA-12), Brian Mast (R-FL-18), Bruce Westerman (R-AR-04), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY-02), Diana Harshbarger (R-TN-01), Dusty Johnson (R-SD-AL), Jody Hice (R-GA-10), Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY-11), Jack Bergman (R-MI-01), Tracey Mann (R-KS-01), Jay Obernolte (R-CA-08), John Rutherford (R-FL-04), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-02), Andrew Clyde (R-GA-09), Ted Budd (R-NC-13), Lisa McClain (R-MI-10), Austin Scott (R-GA-08), Bill Posey (R-FL-08).

Full text of the letter can be found here:

Dear President Biden,

 

We write to express our opposition to your administration’s latest eviction moratorium issued by

the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on August 3. This latest action is plainly

unconstitutional and will only serve to further distort the market and create a housing

affordability crisis. We urge you to respect the Constitution and rescind the moratorium.

 

As you are aware, in Alabama Association of Realtors v. Department of Health and Human

Services, five members of the Supreme Court effectively acknowledged that CDC exceeded its

authority in issuing the moratorium.1 Justice Kavanaugh stated that “clear and specific

congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the

moratorium past July 31.” Your administration has acknowledged that legal reality in several

statements, including one issued by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on August 2.

 

Beyond the constitutional issues, any further restrictions on evictions at this point are

counterproductive. The economy is open, jobs and vaccines are abundant, and federal rental

assistance is a reality.

 

Instead of pursuing an unconstitutional moratorium, your administration should be focused on

distributing the nearly $50 billion in rental assistance that was appropriated through three

separate stimulus packages. A recent Treasury report found very little of this money has been

disbursed so far,3 and your new moratorium will act as an additional disincentive for tenants to

apply for this aid, leaving property owners on the hook. Most states require the tenant to take the

initiative when applying for rental assistance. With a moratorium still in place and courts severely backlogged on eviction hearings, tenants have little incentive to apply, as they are not

the ones bearing the financial burden.

 

 As long as an eviction moratorium remains in place, property owners will continue to struggle

financially. The moratorium effectively forces property owners to provide a good without

compensation. Meanwhile, these property owners must still pay mortgages, taxes, and

maintenance for the dwelling. If this continues much longer, we will see a wave of bankruptcies,

foreclosures, and blighted properties that will negatively affect housing affordability.

We demand you end this moratorium and allow the rental assistance funds to do what they were intended to do. This government overreach must end.

 

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