What's Next for the Eviction Moratorium? Progressives Eye Legislation After SCOTUS Ruling

House progressives are now eyeing legislation to reinstate the federal eviction moratorium after the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration's ban.

Representative Cori Bush, who slept outside on the U.S. Capitol for several nights in order to push officials to extend the moratorium past its July 30 expiration, said Thursday that lawmakers must take action to protect tenants.

"We were outside the Capitol for 5 days. Rain. Heat. Cold. If they think this partisan ruling is going to stop us from fighting to keep people housed, they're wrong," Bush wrote on Twitter. "Congress needs to act immediately. For every unhoused or soon to be unhoused person in our districts."

Representatives Jamaal Bowman, Ro Khanna, Ayanna Pressley and others also called for their colleagues on Capitol Hill to consider legislation on the issue.

"We must take immediate legislative steps to extend the eviction moratorium and solve the short term problem created by this Supreme Court decision," Bowman tweeted. "Then, we must take steps, as a Congress, to transform a system that puts profit over keeping our people sheltered."

On Thursday, the Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on evictions, siding with a group of landlords and realtors against the moratorium imposed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this month.

The groups had argued that the CDC didn't have the authority to impose its latest ban, which would have halted evictions in counties with "substantial and high levels" of COVID-19 transmissions through October 3.

The Supreme Court's conservative majority sided with the landlords and realtors in an unsigned opinion. The three liberal justices dissented.

"The moratorium has put...millions of landlords across the country, at risk of irreparable harm by depriving them of rent payments with no guarantee of eventual recovery," the court ruled. "Many landlords have modest means. And preventing them from evicting tenants who breach their leases intrudes on one of the most fundamental elements of property ownership—the right to exclude."

The Georgia Association of Realtors, one of the groups spearheading the legal challenge, praised the high court's decision as both "fair and aligned with the principle of private property rights in America."

"The end of this unlawful policy marks the beginning of the return of the housing market to a healthy state," the group said in a statement provided to Newsweek.

What’s Next For the Eviction Moratorium?
House progressives are now eyeing legislation to reinstate the federal eviction moratorium after the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s ban. In this photo, activists hold a protest against evictions near City Hall on August 11, 2021 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was "disappointed" by the Supreme Court's decision amid the surge in coronavirus cases across the country due to the highly contagious Delta variant.

Psaki also said that President Joe Biden is calling on all entities that can prevent evictions—such as city governments, local courts and landlords—to do so quickly.

The Supreme Court said in its ruling Thursday that if a federal ban is to continue, "Congress must specifically authorize it."

It's unclear whether legislation to extend the moratorium would pass Congress. The last time Democrats attempted to shore up enough votes to continue the federal ban, they fell short, according to the New York Times.

Plus, 33 House Republicans sent a letter to President Joe Biden earlier this month calling on him to rescind the CDC's eviction moratorium.

"We are deeply concerned that this action was not extended to prevent COVID-19 transmission, but instead is being used to provide additional pandemic payouts," the coalition wrote.

Newsweek reached out to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office for comment on possible legislation to extend the moratorium, but didn't receive a response before publication.