Warren Delivers Floor Speech Calling on Congress to Extend and Expand Eviction Moratorium Ahead of Friday Expiration
"Letting eviction protections evaporate at midnight on Friday will also result in widespread housing disruption, and needlessly cause long-term harm to millions of families' future housing, financial stability, and health." "We can make sure that millions of Americans don't lose their homes because President Trump closed his eyes and hoped the pandemic would go away."
Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) delivered a speech on the Senate floor urging her colleagues to act now to extend and expand eviction protections. Amid deepening economic hardship, the federal moratorium on evictions is set to expire Friday and would eliminate a vital safety net for millions of Americans, disproportionately harming Black and Latino families.
Senator Warren and Congressman Jesús G. "Chuy" García (D-Ill.), a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) have introduced the Protecting Renters from Evictions and Fees Act to extend the nation-wide moratorium on evictions to March 27, 2021 and expand the moratorium to cover all renters.
Transcript of Warren's floor speech:
Senator Warren: Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you Senator Brown for your leadership on this. I'm very sorry that the Republicans will not agree to moving forward on this bill today. The urgency of the moment cannot be overstated. President Trump's utterly failed response to the coronavirus pandemic has allowed a dangerous virus to spread, uncontrolled, throughout our nation. More than 4 million Americans have contracted coronavirus, and more than 140 thousand people are dead.
While the death toll mounts, the President's failure to control the spread of COVID-19 has caused a second crisis, following closely on the heels of the virus: our economy is in shambles. And now, we are forced to fight on two fronts: to keep families safe from the coronavirus, and safe from the economic fallout.
So I'm here on the Senate floor today to talk about one piece of the economic emergency unfolding in our country. Right now, we are just days away from a completely preventable housing crisis.
The CARES Act eviction moratorium is currently protecting more than 12 million renters from losing their homes while a virus rages across our country. On Friday at midnight, those protections will disappear, allowing a tsunami of evictions that will hit communities of color and low-income families the hardest - unless we act now.
Let us be clear: eviction is not a new problem in this country. Too many families were already on the financial brink before the virus crashed our economy. Close to 40% of adults don't have enough cash to cover an unexpected $400 expense. More than half of households didn't have enough savings to cover three months without income. And more than 1 in 4 renters were paying more than half of their income to housing.
Now, families are facing the worst economic crisis of their lifetimes. About 30 million Americans are officially unemployed or out of work. One half of all Americans have lost employment income since the start of this pandemic. And communities of color have been hit the hardest.
It is not possible to fix this economy without containing the virus. But we can make sure that millions of Americans don't lose their homes because President Trump closed his eyes and hoped that the pandemic would just go away.
This is really a common-sense solution. My bill, the Protecting Renters from Evictions and Fees Act, would extend the federal eviction moratorium through March of 2021. And it would expand the moratorium to protect every single renter.
Congress should pass this bill immediately. And we should pair it with Senator Brown's bill to create a 100 billion dollar emergency rental assistance fund to help struggling renters make their payments. Families would get the help they need to stay in their homes and stay current on their rent, and landlords would get their payments.
This would help families. It would cover landlords. And it would help protect renters and communities from the spread of coronavirus.
So the answer is really simple. The Senate can, and must, pass these two bills today. Because the consequences of inaction would be devastating.
More than one out of every three renters have already missed a housing payment. More than one-third of renters have little or no confidence that they can make the next payment.
And let's be clear about who is most at risk. Closer to half of Black and Latinx renters aren't sure they'll be able to make the next housing payment.
Black Americans are already more likely to be renters because of decades of racist federal policies that denied Black families federally-insured mortgages. And our government failed to protect Black homeowners from predatory mortgages leading up to the Great Recession - so when the economy crashed, millions of Black Americans lost their homes, wiping out nearly all of the gains in Black homeownership since the 1968 Fair Housing Act. Failing to institute an eviction moratorium would further deepen existing racial injustices.
Letting eviction protections evaporate at midnight on Friday will also result in widespread housing disruption, and needlessly cause long-term harm to millions of families' future housing, financial stability, and their health. It will put more families at risk of homelessness at a time when providers are already stretching every dollar to connect unhoused Americans with shelter and resources. And it will take away one of the most critical protections from furthering the spread of coronavirus - safe, stable housing.
President Trump's shameful inaction has allowed this virus to spread throughout every community in our country. He has denied the scope and seriousness of this pandemic, he has dismissed calls to take lifesaving action, and he has refused to use the powers of the federal government to implement even the most basic mitigation measures. But a crisis does not stop growing just because those in power refuse to acknowledge it. That is true for the spread of coronavirus. And it is also true for the looming eviction crisis.
This is about our values. The Senate has the opportunity - right now - to stop a massive wave of evictions that will displace families right in the middle of a global pandemic.
My colleagues understood the stakes in March when Congress passed the eviction - the existing eviction moratorium into law. I urge them to join me now in continuing this lifesaving protection, while providing emergency rental assistance to keep renters housed, landlords paid, and most of all to keep families safe.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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