President Joe Biden is “confident” that his administration’s new eviction moratorium is legal, despite him and other White House officials saying it was not legal Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a limited eviction moratorium targeting only areas with “heightened” levels of community transmission Tuesday, despite the White House saying Monday that it had been unable to find legal grounds to do just that. Multiple reporters repeatedly pressed Psaki on the apparent flip flop at Wednesday’s press briefing, and she insisted each time that Biden is now confident in the move’s legality.
“What is the White House’s message, then, to Americans who heard what happened yesterday, who heard what was said at this podium on Monday, can’t square the two and are now disappointed that the president is signaling that he doesn’t respect the rule of law?” a reporter asked. (RELATED: Biden Admin Announces New Efforts To Expand Eviction Moratorium Amid Fight Between Congress, White House)
“The president–his message to the American people, especially those who are concerned about losing their homes–being kicked out of their homes–is that he’s gonna do everything in his power to make sure they can stay in their homes as long as possible,” Psaki responded.
Reporters continued to press Psaki, however, pointing out that Biden had entertained doubts about the constitutionality of an eviction moratorium as recently as Tuesday afternoon.
“I think what’s important to note here is that the president would not have moved forward with a step where he didn’t feel comfortable and confident in the legal justification,” Psaki answered. “It is also a reality that there are legal steps that have been taken by the Supreme Court in the last few months.”
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the CDC’s earlier extension of the eviction moratorium to July 31 could stand, but could not be extended further without express confirmation from Congress in the form of new legislation. The White House pointed to the ruling for more than a week as why it lacked the authority to take the very action it took Tuesday.
“Given the recent spread of the delta variant, including among those American’s 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,” Psaki said July 29. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available.”
Psaki now says White House and CDC lawyers have found a way to make the option available.