/  Ranking Member Cole Remarks During Hearing on H.R. 4791

Ranking Member Cole Remarks During Hearing on H.R. 4791

As delivered during today's hearing:

We’re here today on an emergency measure concerning the eviction moratorium. As members of the committee know, a nationwide eviction moratorium has been in place since last September. It has since been extended multiple times and expires tomorrow.

Unfortunately, even though the Biden Administration has been well aware of the calendar, it was not until yesterday that the president requested that Congress to act.  

None of this should have been a surprise to the Majority. Indeed, Republicans have been sounding the alarm on this topic since mid-May. 

On May 18, Mr. McHenry, the Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, sent Treasury Secretary Yellen a letter asking for data on how much Emergency Rental Assistance funds had reached renters and landlords. 

In June, Ranking Member McHenry asked for an audit of Emergency Rental Assistance programs and during a hearing on housing issues called out the Biden Administration for their gross mismanagement of these programs. 

On June 16, Republicans on the Financial Services Committee introduced H.R. 3913, the Renter Protection Act, to fix the Biden Administration’s mismanagement of the ERA programs, to get the money out the door quickly and keep Americans in their homes.

Meanwhile, on June 29, the Supreme Court issued its decision on the CDC’s rental eviction moratorium, ruling that the CDC could not extend the moratorium past July 31. 

And on July 13, Ranking Member McHenry sent a letter to Chairwoman Maxine Waters asking Treasury Secretary Yellen to testify on ERA programs. Secretary Yellen did not do so then, and indeed, she has never testified on this topic.  

I bring up this history to point out the obvious: the Administration and the majority knew very well that the end of the eviction moratorium was coming. The Supreme Court said so, and Republicans, particularly Ranking Member McHenry, were pushing for action. Yet to date, Democrats have done nothing.  

Republicans have proposed a bill that would have fixed the issues with the Emergency Rental Assistance programs to keep renters in their homes, yet the majority has refused to act. And now, because of their refusal to act, we are suddenly being dragged into the Rules Committee. The majority has only themselves to blame for allowing this crisis to fester.

I would remind members of this committee that Congress has already acted to provide assistance to renters affected by the pandemic. Indeed, when the majority passed the $1.9 trillion COVID reconciliation bill earlier this year, it included over $21 billion in emergency rental assistance. That is on top of the $25 billion included in the bipartisan COVID relief package from last December. Just last week, the Treasury Department reported that just $3 billion of this aid had been distributed to landlords and tenants. 

This issue could and should have been resolved weeks ago, Mr. Chairman. Certainly, Ranking Member McHenry’s bill would have provided real solutions for Americans, and certainly the funds to address this problem have already been appropriated. But instead, the Biden Administration and the majority have done nothing. And now, we are being asked to take emergency action to kick the can down the road yet again.

We need do better than this, Mr. Chairman. There are real, substantive actions the House can take today. But instead, the majority prefers not to. That is a real tragedy both for the institution and for the American people. 

###

Created: July 30, 2021