Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., speaks to crowds that attended a sit-in at Capitol Hill after it was announced that the Biden administration will enact a targeted nationwide eviction moratorium outside of Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, August 3, 2021. For the past five days, lawmakers and activists primarily led by Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., have been sitting in on the steps of Capitol Hill to protest the expiration of the eviction moratorium. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)

By J.K. Schmid
Special to the AFRO

Representative Cori Bush is leading a sit-in protest at the Capitol steps.

Congress has adjourned for a seven-week recess but Rep. Bush is not going home. Instead, she slept on the streets of the nation’s capital over the weekend, demanding that Congress return to business.

President Biden’s administration has faltered on progressive action before, but the inciting incident comes after the president and Democratic leadership allowed the Center for Disease Control’s eviction moratorium to expire July 31.

Rep. Bush demanded that her colleagues return to D.C. to secure housing rights to six million Americans that face eviction proceedings that started Aug. 1.

Over the weekend, Bush’s vigil was joined by Representatives Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley .

The Aspen Institute, a D.C. humanist think tank, calculated that of the 100 million American renters, 15 million are behind on rent. The Aspen Institute calculated that the total rent in arrears is $20 billion, an average of $3,000 per tenant.

While the economy continues to flounder and Delta and Lambda Variant COVID cases on the rise, this failure to protect citizens moves hundreds of millions of Americans from a precarious position to a catastrophic outlook.

“I’m calling on
@POTUS
to extend the eviction moratorium. I’m calling on
@SpeakerPelosi
to reconvene the House for a vote. I’m calling on
@SenSchumer
to extend the eviction moratorium in the Senate. We control the House, Senate, and White House. We must keep people housed,” Rep. Bush said in a Saturday morning tweet.

Rep. Bush has lived through eviction and houselessness, and tied these hard lived experiences to her campaign narrative. It was a victorious campaign that ended in Rep. Bush making history as the first Black woman to represent the state of Missouri in the House of Representatives.

“I was unhoused and forced to live out of my car with my two babies. Today, as the St. Louis Congresswoman, I introduced The Unhoused Bill of Rights, which declares the rights of unhoused people, and would end the unhoused crisis by 2025. This is a surreal feeling,” Rep. Bush said in a July 28 tweet.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a new order Aug. 3. A “Temporary Protection from Eviction,” the order creates a moratorium on the county, rather than national, level. The new moratorium will extend to Oct. 3.

Counties currently reporting “substantial or high levels” of COVID transmission fall under the new moratorium. Counties that develop said substantial or high levels of COVID transmission at a later date will fall under the new two-month moratorium.

While the CDC order acknowledges that evictions anywhere will lead to higher transmissions of COVID and exacerbate any public health crisis, the order does not cover every eviction.

Congress remains at recess at this time. The Senate is scheduled to reconvene Sept. 10, the House is scheduled to reconvene Sept. 20.

“On Friday night, I came to the Capitol with my chair. I refused to accept that Congress would leave for vacation while 11 million people faced eviction,” Representative Bush said in an August 3 tweet. “For five days, we’ve been out here, demanding that our government acts to save lives. Today, our movement moved mountains.”

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