Trump Administration Issues Nationwide Ban on Evictions Through End of 2020
- The Trump administration announced an order that will ban evictions for millions of Americans through the end of the year.
- The order will be enacted by the CDC with the goal of preventing additional coronavirus spread that could come from forcing people out of their homes and into shelters, shared housing, or other crowded living spaces.
- The rule applies to all people who expect to make less than $99,000 this year, or $198,000 for married couples.
- It is by far the most sweeping action the administration has taken on evictions, and while many housing advocates applauded it, they also said it falls short.
- Notably, the order does not give any aid to renters or landlords, meaning that renters will still be required to pay all the money they owe when the ban ends or face eviction.
New Eviction Ban
The Trump administration issued an order Tuesday that will ban evictions for millions of Americans through the end of the year.
The new rule is by far the most sweeping action the administration has taken to protect renters who have lost their jobs or have taken other financial hits during the coronavirus pandemic.
The order, which is being enacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), aims to prevent the additional spread of the coronavirus that mass evictions could create by leaving renters homeless. That’s because mass evictions could force many into homeless shelters, shared housing, or other crowded living spaces.
Under the order, any renter who expects to make no more than $99,000 this year ($198,000 for married couples) or anyone who received a stimulus check under the CARES Act cannot be evicted for failing to pay rent on time.
Renters can still be evicted for other reasons than failing to pay rent, like criminal behavior or property damage. Any landlord who evicts someone for not paying rent can face criminal penalties including fines and jail time.
The order also requires everyone covered under it who is facing eviction to fill out a declaration agreeing to several statements under sworn testimony.
In addition to acknowledging that they meet the income threshold, the declaration also requires all renters to certify that they have “used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing,” are unable to make full payments due to loss of household income or wages or “extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses,” and are “using best efforts to make timely partial payments” as close to the full amount as they can afford.
If evicted, qualifying tenants must also confirm that they are “likely become homeless, need to move into a homeless shelter, or need to move into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters because I have no other available housing options.”
Very notably, under that declaration, renters are additionally required to agree that they understand that once the eviction ban ends on Dec. 31, their landlord can require them to pay the full amount of money they owed. If they do not, they can be evicted once the moratorium expires.
In other words, the moratorium does not erase rent payments. If you are a renter, you still owe that rent. This order just makes it so you cannot be evicted for not paying it during a set period of time. That means that if you do not pay rent or only pay partial rent during the moratorium, you will still owe everything you have not paid yet once it’s expired
If you cannot make up all those payments you owe, you can still be evicted for not paying once it ends.
While it may sound extreme, this provision is in line with most, if not all, of the federal and state-level eviction bans that have been put in place throughout the pandemic.
Before Trump’s new order, the most widespread action taken on evictions during the pandemic was a federal moratorium for renters who were residents of buildings and homes with federal mortgages, which was signed into law in March as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act.
That only applied to around one out of every four renters, and because the ban was not based on income, a lot of people were not covered. It still helped millions of Americans, but that moratorium expired at the end of July, and because it coincided with the expiration of other programs like an additional $600 in federal unemployment benefits, many experts were worried that the U.S. was facing an evictions crisis.
To prevent that, the House both extended the moratorium and expanded it to all tenants as part of the $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill it passed back May. However, Senate Republicans broadly rejected that legislation, and when they proposed their own bill in July, it did not include any plans to extend the evictions ban.
Some states had also implemented their own eviction bans that covered more renters than the federal ban did, so some of those were still in place when the federal one ended, but many of those protections have also started to expire. According to reports, right now, only 17 states and D.C. still have those safeguards.
With the federal ban expired and state bans headed the same way, experts predicted at the beginning of August that 30 to 40 million renters were at risk of being evicted in the next few months absent serious intervention.
With negotiations stalled in Congress, Trump took matters into his own hands at the beginning of last month and announced a series of executive actions aimed at helping Americans economically.
Among those actions was an executive order that Trump said would not only expand the moratorium but give more aid to renters. The order did not actually do either of those things.
In reality, it just called on the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the director of CDC to “consider” whether an eviction ban is needed, and called for the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development secretaries to see if they could find any more funds. The order did not promise any more money.
A Bittersweet Moment for Housing Advocates
Following the executive order, many criticized Trump for misrepresenting his policy and also for not doing enough for renters. With the new order, the script has not flipped, and many have praised the president and his administration for putting such widespread safeguards in place to protect renters.
While many housing advocates have applauded the move, they’re still concerned that it falls short in one key place: providing additional aid to renters.
As noted before, renters will still have to pay the full rent at some point. What’s more, Trump’s order even explicitly allows landlords to charge “fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis.”
However, the order does nothing to help people pay that rent, so while people will not be evicted, many will still also be accumulating thousands of dollars of rent-related debts. This fact has lead to some bittersweet reactions from experts and advocates.
“My reaction is a feeling of tremendous relief. It’s a pretty extraordinary and bold and unprecedented measure that the White House is taking that will save lives and prevent tens of millions of people from losing their homes in the middle of a pandemic,” said Diane Yentel, CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “While an eviction moratorium is an essential step, it is a half-measure that extends a financial cliff for renters to fall off of when the moratorium expires and back rent is owed.”
Some landlords have expressed serious concerns about Trump’s order because in addition to not giving any aid to renters, the order also does not provide any funds for landlords — many of whom won’t be collecting full rent or even any rent at all from some of their tenants.
According to data from Rentec Direct, a property management information and tenant screening firm, in the first 10 days of August alone, landlords reported taking in almost 30% percent less in rent than during the same period in March.
Housing experts say that if landlords also face financial trouble, it could create problems for the whole market.
“An eviction moratorium will ultimately harm the very people it aims to help by making it impossible for housing providers, particularly small owners, to meet their financial obligations and continue to provide shelter to their residents,” Doug Bibby, the president of the National Multifamily Housing Coalition said.
“Not only does an eviction moratorium not address renters’ real financial needs, a protracted eviction moratorium does nothing to address the financial pressures and obligations of rental property owners,” he continued, adding that the “stability of the entire rental housing sector is thrown into question.”
As for how experts think this should be addressed, both Yentel and Bippy have called on Congress to act.
“Congress and the White House must get back to work on negotiations to enact a COVID-19 relief bill with at least $100 billion in emergency rental assistance,” Yentel told NPR. “Together with a national eviction moratorium, this assistance would keep renters stably housed and small landlords able to pay their bills and maintain their properties during the pandemic.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (The New York Times)
Debt Limit Bill Passes the House — Here’s What You Need to Know
The salient features of the package include changes to food stamp eligibility, an end to the pause on student loan repayments, and a controversial pipeline, among other measures.
Congress Passes Debt Deal
With the clock ticking, the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a package to raise the debt ceiling after weeks of negotiations.
At the very top level, the deal suspends the $31.4 trillion borrowing limit until Jan. 2025 in exchange for a range of spending cuts and caps. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the bill would cut federal spending by $1.5 trillion over the next decade.
One of the most talked about parts of the legislation is the measure that would end the multi-year freeze on student loan repayments and require borrowers to resume paying again in September.
The move will have a huge impact: 45 million Americans have student loans, totaling $1.6 trillion, making this the single biggest consumer debt Americans owe after mortgages.
Requiring people to repay their loans at a time when the economy is struggling and inflation continues to soar will put a dent in income for many folks. Joseph Brusuelas, the chief economist for consulting firm RSM US, told The Washington Post that households could see a $40 billion reduction in disposable income as a direct result of the policy.
Notably, the deal does not scrap President Joe Biden’s sweeping student loan forgiveness, as Republicans had proposed in an earlier draft. That matter is still playing out before the Supreme Court.
Changes to SNAP and TANF Benefits
Another major component that could hurt millions of Americans already struggling with high prices are the proposed cuts to food stamps — officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP.)
Specifically, the bill would expand the work requirements for SNAP eligibility. Under current eligibility rules, adults up to age 49 are required to either work or participate in a training program for a minimum of 80 hours a month with exceptions for people who are pregnant, live with children, or have certain disabilities.
The debt ceiling deal would raise the age of people who have to meet those work requirements to 54. That alone could risk hundreds of thousands of Americans losing their essential food assistance, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
Ty Jones Cox, vice president of food assistance at CBPP, explained to The Post that many older adults work part-time or seasonal jobs and thus may not reach the 80-hour-a-month requirement.
Despite the fact that the cuts to food stamps were one of the biggest Republican sticking points and one they have widely touted, the debt deal does include some major expansions to SNAP eligibility.
In addition to expanding work requirements, it also creates new exceptions for those requirements that will be extended to veterans, homeless Americans, and people 18 to 24 who were previously in foster care.
In a tweet, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge said the move represents the first time ever that people experiencing homelessness will not have to meet work requirements to qualify for SNAP.
As a result, the CBO estimates that the number of SNAP recipients would actually grow by 78,000 on average and increase spending by $2.1 billion.
In a similar vein, another part of the deal that could impact many Americans is a measure that would implement changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is a program that provides temporary cash for families in need.
The legislation would overhaul a framework for state TANF programs that would effectively require states to expand work requirements. The actual effect will vary by state, but the CBO estimated that the move would slightly reduce the amount of money the federal government gives to states for the program.
An additional provision in this bill that has been getting a lot of attention — and a lot of backlash — would fast-track the building of a natural gas pipeline in West Virginia.
Completion of the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) — which would cut through federal forests and hundreds of dozens of waterways and wetlands — has been stalled by numerous court fights and environmental regulations.
Construction has gone millions of dollars over budget and violated many clean water laws. According to the environmental group Appalachian Voices, MVP has made more than 500 violations in two states.
The debt deal would speed up permitting for the project, make it basically impossible for environmental groups to bring legal challenges for government approvals, and shift jurisdiction away from regional courts that have continuously ruled against MVP.
The pipeline has been championed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), who has raked in three times more money from pipeline companies than any other member of Congress, according to Open Secrets.
Manchin’s vote will be essential to passing the debt deal in the narrowly divided Senate, and Biden promised him he would expedite the pipeline in exchange for his vote on the sweeping climate spending bill last year that the senator had single-handedly held up.
Other Notable Measures — and What Was Left Out
MVP is not the only provision in the legislation that has angered environmentalists. The deal would also streamline environmental permitting for huge energy projects, including ones on fossil fuels.
There are a number of other notable measures included in the package, including proposals to cut $20 billion in funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and claw back around $27 billion in COVID relief funds.
The bill would also mandate that significant expenditures be offset with pay-as-you-go spending reductions, as well as cap non-defense discretionary spending — a broad category that includes funding for education, national parks, and scientific research.
Also worth noting are the issues that were left out of the deal. Specifically, the package does not touch military spending or entitlements Republicans had floated cutting like Social Security and Medicare.
That is significant because those areas make up the country’s largest expenses by far — totaling nearly 80% of last year’s budget alone and costing $4.9 trillion.
Much of Biden’s domestic agenda was largely spared from the sweeping cuts and caps Republicans initially wanted. As a result, many experts have noted that the debt deal ultimately is not expected to bring down the U.S. deficit.
Deutsche Bank analysts estimated that the annual deficit reduction will only be “a few tenths of a percentage point.”
A Mixed Bag for McCarthy
Beyond having sweeping implications for America, this debt ceiling deal also has high political stakes — especially for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.).
The package was arguably the biggest test of his career as speaker, and while he did ultimately achieve his goal of passing a bill that cut spending and proved he could pass bipartisan legislation, it came at a cost.
The final version of this debt bill was significantly whittled down from the first one House Republicans passed as their starting point for negotiations, and he was only able to get it through the chamber with significant help from Democrats.
The entire deal nearly fell apart before it got to the House floor because far-right Republicans moved to block the measure from consideration in a major snub to McCarthy, forcing Democrats to swoop in.
Once the bill was finally put to a vote, it passed with more support from Democrats than Republicans. Democrats voted 165 in favor and 46 against, while 149 Republicans backed the measure and 71 opposed it.
That is still a solid 2-to-1 ratio of Republican support for McCarthy, but numerous members of the far-right wing of his party have threatened to oust him as speaker over the debt deal, including some who have specifically said they would do so if the bill passed with more support from Democrats than Republicans.
The debt deal now moves to the Senate, where both Democratic and Republican leadership have pushed for their members to fast-track the bill so it can get to Biden’s desk by Monday — the deadline to suspend the debt ceiling.
A couple of Senators on both sides are threatening to slow down the bill with amendments. While Republicans are calling for more spending cuts, Democrats want to remove the provision expediting the MVP pipeline.
However, because any amendments require a 60-vote threshold, these proposals are mostly symbolic. Especially because any changes would force the bill back to the House — and there is not enough time.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (Axios)
Texas State Senate Sets Date for AG Ken Paxton’s Impeachment Trial
The House impeached Paxton on 20 articles, including bribery, abuse of public trust, and dereliction of duty.
The Texas State Senate on Monday adopted a resolution outlining how the impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) will play out in the upper chamber.
The proceedings, which will be over seen by the Lieutenant Governor, will start no later than Aug. 28. The move comes after the House voted to impeach Paxton on Saturday 121 to 23, with a majority of Republicans voting in favor. The historic vote marks just the third time a public official has been impeached in Texas’ nearly 200-year history. The most recent impeachment was nearly five decades ago.
The decision follows a tumultuous week for Texas Republicans and further highlights the growing rifts within the party.
The divisions first came to a head last Tuesday when Paxton called for Speaker of the House Dade Phelan (R) to step down after he presided over the floor while seemingly intoxicated. Mere hours later, the Republican-led General Investigating Committee announced that it had been investigating Paxton for months.
On Thursday, the committee unanimously recommended that Paxton be impeached and removed from office, prompting a full floor vote over the weekend.
Articles of Impeachment
In total, 20 articles of impeachment were brought against Paxton, including bribery, abuse of public trust, dereliction of duty, and more.
While there is a wide range of allegations, many first surfaced in Oct. 2020, when seven of Paxton’s top aides published a letter they had sent to the Attorney General’s director of human resources.
The letter accused Paxton of committing several crimes and asked the FBI to launch an investigation, which it did.
The staffers claimed that Paxton had abused his office to benefit Nate Paul, an Austin real estate developer and friend of Paxton’s who donated $25,000 to his 2018 campaign. Many of the impeachment articles concern Paxton’s alleged efforts to try and protect Paul from an FBI investigation he was facing in 2020.
Specifically, Paxton is accused of attempting to interfere in foreclosure lawsuits and issuing legal opinions that benefitted Paul, improperly obtaining undisclosed information to give him, and violating agency policies by appointing an outside attorney to investigate baseless claims and issue subpoenas to help the developer and his businesses.
In exchange, Paul allegedly helped Paxton by hiring a woman the Attorney General was having an affair with and paying for expensive renovations to Paxton’s home. According to the articles, that swap amounted to bribery.
Beyond Paxton’s relationship with Paul, many impeachment articles also concern how the top lawyer handled the 2020 letter.
In particular, Paxton is accused of violating Texas’ whistleblower law by firing four of the staffers who reported him in retaliation, misusing public funds to launch a sham investigation into the whistleblowers, and making false official statements in his response to the allegations.
The Attorney General also allegedly tried to conceal his wrongdoing by entering into a $3.3 million settlement with the fired staffers. The settlement is especially notable as House leaders have explicitly said they launched their probe into Paxton because he had asked the state legislature to approve taxpayer money to pay for that settlement.
Additionally, the impeachment articles outline several charges relating to a securities fraud case that Paxton was indicted for in 2015 but has not been charged in. The charges there include lying to state investigators and obstructing justice.
Paxton, for his part, has denied the allegations. On Saturday, the Attorney General issued a statement seeking to politicize the matter, claiming his impeachment was “illegal” and a “politically motivated scam.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Associated Press) (The New York Times)
Trump Lawyer Notes Indicate Former President May Have Obstructed Justice in Mar-a-Lago Documents Probe
The notes add to a series of recent reports that seem to paint a picture of possible obstruction.
Corcoran’s Notes on Mar-a-Lago
Prosecutors have 50 pages of notes from Donald Trump’s lawyer Evan Corcoran that show the former president was explicitly told he could not keep any more classified documents after he was subpoenaed for their return, according to a new report by The Guardian.
The notes, which were disclosed by three people familiar with the matter, present new evidence that indicates Trump obstructed justice in the investigation into classified documents he improperly kept at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
In June, Corcoran found around 40 classified documents in a storage room at Mar-a-Lago while complying with the initial subpoena. The attorney told the Justice Department that no additional documents were on the property.
In August, however, the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago and discovered about 100 more.
The Guardian’s report is significant because it adds a piece to the puzzle prosecutors are trying to put together: whether Trump obstructed justice when he failed to comply with the subpoena by refusing to return all the documents he had or even trying to hide them intentionally.
As the outlet noted, prosecutors have been “fixated” on Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta, since he told them that the former president directed him to move boxes out of the storage room before and after the subpoena. His actions were also captured on surveillance footage.
The sources familiar with Corcoran’s notes said the pages revealed that both Trump and the Nauta “had unusually detailed knowledge of the botched subpoena response, including where Corcoran intended to search and not search for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, as well as when Corcoran was actually doing his search.”
At one point, Corcoran allegedly noted how he had told the Nauta about the subpoena prior to his search for the documents because the lawyer needed him to unlock the storage room, showing how closely involved the valet was from the get-go.
Corcoran further stated that Nauta had even offered to help go through the boxes, but the attorney declined. Beyond that, the report also asserted that the notes “suggested to prosecutors that there were times when the storage room might have been left unattended while the search for classified documents was ongoing.”
Adding to the Evidence
If real, Corcoran’s notes are very damning, especially considering other recent reports concerning Trump’s possible efforts to obstruct the documents probe.
A few weeks ago, The New York Times reported that Corcoran had testified before a grand jury that multiple Trump employees told him the Mar-a-Lago storage room was the only place the documents were kept.
“Although Mr. Corcoran testified that Mr. Trump did not personally convey that false information, his testimony hardly absolved the former president,” the outlet reported, referencing people with knowledge of the matter.
“Mr. Corcoran also recounted to the grand jury how Mr. Trump did not tell his lawyers of any other locations where the documents were stored, which may have effectively misled the legal team.”
Additionally, the only reason that Corcoran handed over these notes was that he was under court order to do so. Corcoran had refused to turn the materials over, citing attorney-client privilege.
A federal judge rejected that claim on the grounds that there was reason to believe a lawyer’s advice or services were used to further a crime — meaning prosecutors believed they had enough evidence to prove Trump may have acted criminally.