Pelosi Remarks at Media Stakeout After Floor Action on Rental Eviction Moratorium
Washington D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Whip James E. Clyburn for a media stakeout following House Republicans blocking legislation to extend the eviction moratorium to October 18, 2021. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Okay. Good evening, and that is what [it] has become.
We are very, very pleased and proud of the overwhelming support that we have from the House Democrats, who understand the hardship across our country for those who may get – eviction. We worked very hard. I commend Congresswoman, Madam Chair Maxine Waters for her extraordinary leadership on this issue for months, for more than a year, to make sure the resources were there to alleviate the problem for renters and housing providers, landlords. It was up for all of that.
Really, we only learned of this yesterday – not enough time to socialize it within our Caucus as well as to build the consensus necessary. Especially in the time of COVID when we couldn't all, once again, be together again. But, we are very pleased at the overwhelming support from our Caucus for this. We're also very pleased with the statement made by President Biden this evening, calling upon state and local governments to immediately release the funds, distribute the funds to those in need.
Important to note – under Maxine Waters’ leadership – as part of this, in our bill [at] the end of the year last year, the omnibus bill, as well as in the Rescue package, we had over $46 billion for renters and landlords, housing providers. Unfortunately, only $3 billion of that, as we are learning, has been distributed. How shameful? I mean, what? While people – and the people who are on the verge of being evicted are paying the price for whatever obstacles these localities and states refuse to overcome to distribute this – these funds. So, the President’s statement – have you seen it? Please, I refer you to the President’s statement. It was very powerful and very clear as to what the challenge is.
But, we are – these, if anyone has ever been evicted, or if you've ever seen anyone in your community evicted, where you see cribs on the sidewalk or personal belongings that then could be picked up by any passerby; if you see tears in the eyes of law enforcement officers who have to go in and evict families; if you see the hardship for families to be evicted and now have to go find another place to live; you know that this is really a challenge to the conscience of all of us who had any responsibility to the well-being of the American people.
I do want to also add that this is a health – this contributes to health, to a health hazard. The COVID pandemic is not over. At the same time, as the CDC is increasing requirements for masks, encouraging vaccinations and other public health suggestions, they say they do not have – and I trust – that they don’t have the authority to extend the moratorium. The ball then, yesterday, came to our court, and we will, we will make good with – of it. But, again, it will take a little more time.
Our distinguished Majority Leader has worked so hard on this, as has our distinguished Whip. We're really – we've had beautiful conversations with Members about the Gospel of Matthew and all that inspires us for our purpose: to meet the needs of the American people. When it comes, though, to the technicalities of legislation, we just needed more time.
With that, as you may have [been] aware, our distinguished Majority Leader took action on the Floor this evening. I will yield to him to explain that. Mr. Leader.
Leader Hoyer. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. First, let me say, we had a very successful week last week and a very successful week this week. We passed ten appropriation bills – excuse me, nine appropriation bills this week, so a very productive week.
As the speakers have mentioned, and as you know, at the last minute, it became clear that we were going to have the moratorium expire. And the Administration concluded that it was without the legal power to take action and came to us yesterday, or late the day before that, to ask us to take action.
As the Speaker said, the overwhelming number of our Members, overwhelming, wanted to support that legislation. Now, obviously some concerns about landlords getting payments, as well as renters, as you know how the program works – renters to the landlord, and they have to apply. So, there was great concern about the welfare of both renters and landlords. So, we've been working very hard to pass that.
Unfortunately, we had no Republicans work with us. We have a very close margin. And there were a number of people concerned and had said the last time that they were going to vote, but this was the last time. And they wanted to – the money to get out the door to renters and then landlords, and that money is still not out the door. The President’s made a very strong statement about that.
So, I went to the Floor, and I asked for Unanimous Consent to bring forth the bill that we wanted – that we wanted to do. The Republican – the Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee objected.
We will not forget this issue. We expect to be back here in the relatively near future. I don't ever say ‘plan’ because I don't know when. Our Senate colleagues are going to be in session next week and maybe for longer than that, on the budget matters on reconciliation, infrastructure. So, there’s a lot of business for us to do. And we'll have to make that judgment.
But this issue will not be forgotten. We're going to pursue it, and we're going to ensure that a – the money gets out the door to the landlords and renters so that they will be made not to have a stress every week or every month that the rent becomes due, and that, particularly, landlords of small two or three units who are using that income to supplement their retirement, or perhaps that is their retirement, are not left at risk.
Unfortunately, as I say, our request to bring that bill to the Floor, and frankly to have some Republican support for, was not forthcoming. We regret that, but we will continue to work on this matter with the Chair of the Finance Committee, Maxine Waters, to whom we just talked.
Now, let me yield to a person who probably has worked hardest over the last – although Nancy and I – the Speaker and I have been working pretty hard, but probably the person who has worked hardest is Jim Clyburn, our Whip. Jim.
Whip Clyburn. Thank you, Mr. Leader. Thank you, Speaker. I don't know that I can add anything to this, but I want to emphasize the fact that we're not talking about any additional money. The money is there: $46 billion left, which less than ten percent has gone, less than ten percent has gone out.
And I would think, like the Leader said, when we come back here, I would hope that we will take this issue up, and hopefully we can fashion legislation in such a way that this money gets out the door. To have state and local governments not getting the money out to the people who need it – these landlords, many of them, I spoke to several today. For the landlords of less than ten units, as Steny said, this is their livelihood. This their retirement. They got five, six, seven units to be rented out, and they haven't gotten any money simply because the paperwork, whatever, it's got it all bottled up. But the money’s just sitting there, and that's unacceptable.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, in addition to that, maybe – all of them, I would assume, have to pay their mortgage, and we do have foreclosure relief in our legislation, as well. But whether it's for foreclosure or, excuse me, for paying your mortgage or whether it's for supporting their lives, this is really, really so unfair to the landlords, the housing providers, however they are identified, as well as to the renters who will now end up – hopefully not. Hopefully, the money will get out there.
I do want to refer you also, by the way though, again, to the President's statement. Here’s what he said. Thank you – just in time. He said: ‘As the eviction moratorium deadline approaches tomorrow, I call on all state and local governments to take all possible steps to immediately disburse these funds given the imminent ending of the CDC eviction moratorium. State and local governments began receiving Emergency Rental Assistance’ funds – ‘funding in February and were eligible for an additional $21 billion – bringing it up to 46 – over $46 billion – ‘passed in the American Rescue Plan. Five months later, with localities across the nation showing that they can deliver funds effectively, there can be no excuse for any state or locality not accelerating funds to landlords and tenants that have been hurt during this pandemic.’
It goes on and on. And I refer to the President's statement, which is – there are some in our Caucus who say, ‘Well, if we don't pass anything, then they have to give the money.’ So, that was their sort of motivator to have to give the money. But, we think that the action taken by Members is strong support that enabled us to speak to this issue with authority – should also contribute to the momentum of the President's statement to go forward.
With – again, this is a health hazard, to put people on the street during a pandemic. And as I said before, as – while the CDC is saying: ‘Do more on masks, do more on vaccinations, do more on other public health advice.’ We think – it was curious that they would not be able to extend the moratorium which is a health issue, during a –
Q: Could you just – why is this coming up tonight? I mean, clearly the White House – they knew what was happening on Saturday. They knew this ended on Saturday. You seem to think they could take Administrative action. That's unusual for them to come to you with a day to ask you to put together a bill.
Speaker Pelosi. Well, it is. But, again, they – I have no criticism of the Administration for what they are doing as they see the law. The, this – when this was taken up in the Supreme Court, and we won the case, Justice Kavanaugh said, ‘I'm not doing this again.’ And so that has put a damper on any actions that could be challenged in the courts, because the Supreme Court looked like a dead end for this. But you'd have to talk to them and their lawyers about the motivation.
The timing is –
Whip Clyburn. Inconvenient.
Leader Hoyer. Unfortunate.
Speaker Pelosi. What would you –
Leader Hoyer. I said unfortunate.
Whip Clyburn. Inconvenient.
Q: Just a follow up on that, did you urge the Administration to take any particular Executive Action in the last 24, 48 hours and they declined to do so?
Speaker Pelosi. Well, it wasn't a question of that. It was a question of why is – why are we getting this right now, when we do think that there could be Executive Action to do this? But they made it very clear that they, their lawyers, were not supportive of them going forward at the CDC – this is the CDC.
And it might be interesting for you to note, and my colleagues can speak wisely to this, one of the things that was – two things were interesting to us. One was that the money had not been spent. What? These communities have been broken all this time, with this money, and they're not spending it, putting it in the pockets of renters so they can pay their rent and relieving the pain for landlords and housing providers.
Two: that the Secretary of HHS has declared, by his authority, a 90-day period that is a public health emergency, period. That ends on October 18th. And on October 18th is what we said, ‘Let's just have them till October 18th to get the money out.’ Once the money’s out, then there's not, perhaps, any need for further extension of the moratorium.
Nobody knows this subject better than our distinguished Chair Maxine Waters of the Financial Services Committee. However, this legislation falls under the Energy and Commerce Committee because it is calling upon the CDC to do this.
There's some concern of what could happen in the Senate when we just didn't see any lift in terms of the Republicans concern for the hardship suffered by the American people. The prospects in the Senate did not look too good –
Did you have anything to say on that?
Leader Hoyer. No.
Q: Can I ask you, ma’am, why not just keep the House in and pass a bill and then send it to the Senate? I mean you’re leaving for seven weeks – you’re recessing for seven weeks – why not just keep the House in?
Speaker Pelosi. We’re not recess –
Whip Clyburn. Not for seven weeks.
Speaker Pelosi. We’re not recessing for seven weeks.
Q: You’ll be here in Washington?
Speaker Pelosi. We’ll be here –
Leader Hoyer. John, what I said –
Q: – then you’re going to come back in August?
Leader Hoyer. I want you to listen, again.
Speaker Pelosi. I’m still here.
Leader Hoyer. The Speaker is here more than I am, and I live here.
But what I said was: the Senate is meeting now. They may be out now, but they’re meeting next week. They may meet the week thereafter. They're working on some very, very timely and important legislation – the infrastructure bill, the budget reconciliation.
We're going to deal with all those in a timely fashion. I have advised Members that they will be subject to call. We will give notice, obviously, significant notice, but they are subject to call.
So the assumption that we may not be here for the next five weeks is not an assumption I want you guys to make. I know you have a vacation coming up and we try to –
Q: We don’t take vacations, sir.
Leader Hoyer. Or maybe you have a district work period.
Speaker Pelosi. Steny, tell them what you tell them about nonrefundable tickets.
Leader Hoyer. I don't know what I'd say about nonrefundable tickets.
Speaker Pelosi. He says it to everyone, staff, press, Members.
Leader Hoyer. I say don’t buy them.
Speaker Pelosi. Don’t invest in any nonrefundable tickets for a date, certain to fly.
Leader Hoyer. I've been telling Members now for a month that given the importance of the work that is going on in the Senate and the lack of knowledge as to when that is going to occur, they need to be flexible.
As you know, we have a lot of younger Members with families, schools go back into session on the 15th, and we will see what we what we can do, but there are a lot of considerations in play.
But we have advised Members that they may well be back here in a fashion, as I said, which would keep this issue very much alive, very much in our focus and ready to act.
Q: After all these hours of negotiation, what was ultimately the – the issues and problems preventing you from getting 218. Was it just the window? Was it just the October 18th date or were there – were there issues with language about how to wind the program down with? Why couldn’t you get 218?
Speaker Pelosi. Actually you hit it right on the head. There were different dates. Some people set out on an earlier date, others said it has to be a later date. Some were happy with October 18, because that’s when school started. But the timeline was an important disagree – shall we say – area of discussion.
The Members were very informed about it. That wasn't an obstacle. It's just, it's what they believe.
Whip Clyburn. And I also think a lot of Members were very concerned that this money is all bottled up. And then within the – what can we do to get the money out of these offices and into the landlords’ and to the tenants’ pockets? You know, you can extend it, and it's still bottled up.
So, that's where we have the difficulty, trying to figure out how we can extend this, but push the money out of this role. And that means our Members will [inaudible] –
Staff. Thank you all. Thank you.