Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban

House Democratic leaders failed to round up enough votes Friday to pass legislation extending the federal ban on evictions just two days before it is set to expire.

Two Democratic lawmakers said that a possible House floor vote on Friday would ultimately be scrapped after leadership struggled all day to round up enough support.

“We don’t have the votes,” a Democratic aide said. 

But when Speaker Nancy PelosiDemocrats fall short of votes for extending eviction banNancy PelosiCapitol riot defendants have started a jail newsletter: report On The Money: Biden asks Congress to extend eviction ban with days until expiration | Economic growth rose to 6.5 percent annual rate in second quarter Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure MORE (D-Calif.) was asked if she had pulled the bill, she said, “No.”

Democrats were caught by surprise the day before when President BidenDemocrats fall short of votes for extending eviction banJoe BidenFirst lady leaves Walter Reed after foot procedure Biden backs effort to include immigration in budget package MyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News MORE urged Congress to extend the eviction ban, which has been in place since September.

Biden insisted that his administration no longer has the authority to unilaterally extend the moratorium due to a Supreme Court ruling last month.

That left House Democratic leaders scrambling to round up enough votes in their own caucus, given the widespread opposition from Republicans to extending the moratorium again.

Even if House Democrats had passed a bill, it would have all but certainly failed in the Senate due to widespread opposition from Republicans. 

Pelosi and her team initially pushed for an extension that would last until Dec. 31.

But the vote count fell far short amid resistance from moderates and housing industry groups. 

House Democrats can currently only afford three defections and still pass bills on their own without any support from Republicans. Democratic sources said Friday they were short by more than a dozen votes, which proved to be insurmountable despite more than a day of persuasion attempts by party leaders. 

Pelosi later proposed a compromise of only extending the eviction ban to Oct. 18, in part to appease centrists who preferred ending the moratorium by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The Oct. 18 date would also coincide with the end of the public health emergency declaration issued by the Biden administration.

Lawmakers expressed frustration that the $46.5 billion in rental aid allocated by Congress by pandemic relief measures is still largely unspent, with only $3 billion distributed to renters by state and local governments so far. 

But Democrats pushing to extend the moratorium argued that renters shouldn’t be evicted in the meantime as a result of bureaucratic failures. 

“As we do so, we urge states and localities to expeditiously distribute the money that Congress has allocated to renters in need,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues. “Families must not pay the price for that.”

The National Association of Realtors urged lawmakers to direct rental assistance toward housing providers in a statement opposing another extension of the eviction moratorium.

"Nearly half of all rental housing in America is a mom-and-pop operation, and these providers cannot continue to live in a state of financial hardship," said Shannon McGahn, chief advocacy officer for the National Association of Realtors. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) renewed the eviction ban on June 24 through the end of July, saying it would be the last extension. 

The Supreme Court also warned the Biden administration on June 29 that the CDC did not have the authority to issue the ban and that any further extensions would need to be enacted by Congress. 

Given the new threat posed by the delta variant of the coronavirus, the White House pushed for another extension of the eviction ban on Thursday. 

“Given the recent spread of the delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability,” White House press secretary Jen PsakiDemocrats fall short of votes for extending eviction banJen PsakiOn The Money: Biden asks Congress to extend eviction ban with days until expiration | Economic growth rose to 6.5 percent annual rate in second quarter Biden calls on Congress to extend eviction ban with days until expiration Why in the world are White House reporters being told to mask up again? MORE said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available," she added.

The eviction moratorium bill wasn’t the only measure likely to be scrapped from Friday’s House floor schedule after Democratic leaders were unable to round up enough votes.

The House was also set to possibly consider an annual appropriations bill this week to fund the departments of Justice and Commerce in the next fiscal year. But Democrats weren’t able to round up enough votes due to internal divisions over police reform.

“This is a balance between providing the resources that we need for our police and our police departments, and making sure that there are the safeguards in terms of making sure that we're moving in the direction of reform,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauroDemocrats fall short of votes for extending eviction banRosa DeLauroHouse clears .1 billion Capitol security bill, sending to Biden House passes sprawling spending bill ahead of fall shutdown fight House passes spending bill to boost Capitol Police and Hill staffer pay MORE (D-Conn.) told The Hill.

This story was updated at 4:15 p.m.