Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is laying the blame for the expiration of a national eviction moratorium squarely on the shoulders of her own party.
In an interview on Sunday with CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of The Union, the New York Democrat accused conservative members of her own party of refusing to vote on the issue this week when it was brought up.
"There was, frankly, a handful of conservative Democrats in the House that threatened to get on planes rather than hold this vote”, said the congresswoman, adding: “And we have to really just call a spade a spade”.
Turning her focus to the White House, Ms Ocasio-Cortez asserted that President Joe Biden’s administration waited weeks to inform Congress that it did not believe it had the authority to unilaterally extend the moratorium, a sentiment that has been echoed by other House Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“Now, there is something to be said for the fact that this court order came down on the White House a month ago, and the White House waited until a day before the House adjourned to release a statement”, she said.
“We asked the Biden administration about their stance and they were not being forthright about that advocacy and that request until the day before the House adjourned”, she added.
The House, the congresswoman added, had been placed in a “needlessly difficult situation” by the Biden administration.
CNN's @jaketapper: Who's to blame for the eviction moratorium expiring?— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) August 1, 2021
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
The Independent has reached out to the White House for comment on her remarks.
Millions of Americans are estimated to now be at risk of eviction after a nationwide moratorium linked to the Covid-19 pandemic passed under the CARES Act in December 2020 expired at midnight.
Congressional progressives have fumed over the issue, with some such as Rep Ro Khanna turning their fire on members of the party they say are under pressure from special interests to let the eviction ban expire even as Covid-19 is surging in some states.
“The reason they’re not bringing it for a vote is because some Democrats privately have tried to kill this bill because of special interest of Realtors and other groups,” said Mr Khanna.
“[I] is unconscionable that we don't have a vote on the House floor, that we're protecting some members to kill this behind closed doors and aren't being transparent. It's just wrong”, he added.
Others, such as the speaker and Rep Jim McGovern, chairman of the House Rules Committee, have added that the White House shares blame for the timing of its statement.
“I quite frankly wish he’d asked us sooner”, said Mr McGovern, according to Bloomberg.
“Really, we only learned about this yesterday”, argued Ms Pelosi. “Not really enough time to socialize it within our caucus”.
The White House disputed that characterization on Friday, with deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claiming that the administration had “been having conversations with Congress for some time” on the issue, while not naming which lawmakers were informed.
As the ban expired Saturday evening, dozens of demonstrators descended on the steps of the Capitol, joined by lawmakers including Ms Ocasio-Cortez and Rep Cori Bush, the latter of whom slept on the Capitol steps Friday in protest of her colleagues’ decisions to leave town.
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