Cori Bush sleeps outside Capitol as progressive Democrats push to extend eviction moratorium

Housing experts say millions of Americans potentially face eviction without the ban

Graig Graziosi
Saturday 31 July 2021 21:58
Coronavirus in numbers

US Representative Cori Bush slept outside the US Capitol building in a demonstration urging her Democratic colleagues to remain in Washington to vote to extend the federal eviction moratorium put in place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Bush's protest came in response to a number of Democratic lawmakers who said they planned to leave Washington DC, preventing them from voting to extend the evictions ban.

"The House is at recess. People are on vacations. How are we on vacation when we have millions of people who could start to be evicted tonight?" Ms Bush said during an appearance on CNN. "There are people already receiving and have received pay or vacate notices that will have them out on tomorrow. People are already in a position where they need help, our most vulnerable, our most marginalized, those who are in need."

Housing experts have warned that millions of Americans could be at risk of eviction without the moratorium in place.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank, estimated that approximately 16 per cent of US households were behind on their rent, which is double the level that existed before the pandemic.

More than a dozen states have 18 per cent or more of their residents struggling to stay ahead of their rent, including Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi in the south, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Rhode Island in the east, and Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Ms Bush announced her intentions on Friday, sending a letter to her colleagues stating that she could not "in good conscious leave Washington tonight while a Democratic-controlled government allows millions to go unhoused as the Delta variant is ravaging our communities."

Democrats who support extending the moratorium past its 31 July launched a desperate bid to find enough votes to extend the deadline, but were ultimately unsuccessful.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that "members within our own caucus threatening to go on vacation and imperiling the lives of millions of people is unacceptable."

Her colleague, Congressman Ro Kahanna placed the blame for the deadline extension's failure solely on other Democrats, who he accused to having political interests influencing their willingness to vote.

"Some Democrats privately have tried to kill this bill because of special interest," he said.

Multiple sources told Politico's Playbook that Senator Kristen Sinema was one of the Democrats who allowed the bill to die, telling Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that she had summer plans that she was not willing to put off in order to vote on the bill.

Progressive allies of Ms Bush including Representatives Ilhan Omar and Ayana Pressley joined her during the night, and Senator Elizabeth Warren visited her on Saturday morning.

Ms Bush said she planned to stay in Washington until "something happened," saying she understood the fear of potential eviction.

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